About Gamma Knife

About Gamma Knife Radiation Treatment

_D1A1073Gamma Knife® radiosurgery is a major advance that has changed the landscape within the field of neurosurgery. It has become a primary treatment for brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia and other disorders. Leksell Gamma Knife is the ONLY stereotactic radiosurgery system specifically approved for treating brain tumors, also known as brain metastases, based on long-term  scientific proof. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive technique that is an alternative to conventional neurosurgery for many indications. Diseased tissue is treated with a single precisely-focused destructive dose of gamma rays. Normal brain tissue adjacent to the diseased tissue receives little radiation.

The Alaska Gamma Knife Center at Anchorage Radiation Therapy Center recently completed a major technology upgrade to Gamma Knife with the introduction of the new Gamma Knife Icon. The most significant, new capability that it delivers is the ability to do the treatment in a mask, rather than, with a head frame. This allows for the same superior precision as Perfexion, but using a mask so that it is more comfortable for patients. This also expands our capabilities and allows us to be able to perform fractionated radiosurgery. “This new and powerful tool allows the same superior brain radiosurgery made possible with the Gamma Knife system, but without the need for a head frame in select patients. This not only improves patient comfort, but also expands our radiosurgery capabilities, enabling us to treat a wider array of patients with Gamma Knife technology” said Dr. Stephen Settle, M.D., Ph.D., Anchorage Radiation Therapy Center. “The Gamma Knife Icon allows us to treat brain tumors with the most precise technology there is in radiosurgery, providing the very best, noninvasive treatment for Alaskans.”

The Gamma Knife is not a knife at all, but a medical instrument that emits 192 finely focused beams of gamma radiation. These beams simultaneously intersect at the precise location of the brain disorder and treat it with minimal effect on surrounding normal tissue and without the usual risks of surgery or an incision. Gamma Knife surgery maximizes patient comfort and can be used to treat lesions that before were either inaccessible or were treated unsuccessfully by conventional surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery sets the bar for accuracy, with guaranteed precision that enhances physician confidence and ensures patient safety.

Gamma Knife makes it possible for patients to undergo a non-invasive, out-patient  form of brain surgery without trauma, surgical risks, hospital stay or subsequent rehabilitation.

Gamma Knife is often the only treatment option for inoperable lesions and for patients who were formerly considered untreatable or at very high risk for open skull surgery.

Gamma Knife is done with the partnership of a Neurologist
Gamma Knife is a revolutionary breakthrough in brain surgery technology that includes these advantages:

  • Superior outcomes documented by 20 years of studies and peer-reviewed medical journals
  • Designed specifically to treat brain disorders providing greater accuracy than other radiosurgery systems
  • Delivers significantly lower dose of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue in comparison to CyberKnife, linear accelerator, or fractionated radiation therapy
  • Utilizes stereotactic frame technology that defines the standard for radiosurgery accuracy (especially vital for small tumors near sensitive neural structures)
  • Imaging, planning and treatment performed on the same day, as an outpatient procedure
  • Higher rates of patient satisfaction than microsurgery
  • No incisions or general anesthesia
  • No risk of intracranial bleeding or infection
  • Low risk of post-surgical complications
  • Rapid return to normal activities
  • No hair loss or scarring
  • Long term control of tumors and other disease
  • Indicated by the FDA for the treatment of brain metastases
  • Considered the “Gold Standard” of radiosurgery because of its accuracy and non-treatment of the surrounding healthy brain tissue. The success rate of the Gamma Knife is unprecedented. More than 400,000 patients have had Gamma Knife surgery with no mortality, and minimal morbidity reported. Backed by two decades of pre-clinical research, no other neurosurgical tool has met with such impressive results.Clinical applications continue to grow, and its many benefits as a minimally invasive procedure continue to make it the treatment of choice.

Treatment Protocol

Patients arrive at the Gamma Knife Center and are admitted the morning of the procedure. A lightweight head frame is used as the most accurate system to target the lesion and, is applied under local anesthetic with four, tiny pins. With the frame in place, the patient receives an MRI or CT imaging study, or angiography in the case of arteriovenous malformation, to precisely locate the diseased area to be treated. Keeping in mind, we now have the ability to treat patients without the head frame if deemed more appropriate.

Data from the imaging study is transferred to the Gamma Knife computer system. While the patient rests, the Gamma Knife Center team uses advanced software to determine the treatment plan. This takes one or two hours to complete depending on the complexity and location of the diseased area.

When the individualized treatment plan is completed, the patient is placed on the Gamma Knife couch and is comfortably positioned. The patient is then moved automatically head first into the Gamma Knife and treatment begins. Treatment typically lasts from 15 minutes to an hour, during which time the patient feels nothing unusual. At the completion of the treatment the patient is automatically moved out of the Gamma Knife, and the head frame, if used, is removed. Patients are usually able to leave the treatment center the same day and resume their normal activities. The patient’s physician will arrange periodic follow-up examinations and brain imaging to follow the effects of treatment.


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