Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a very precise form of radiation therapy that focuses intense beams of gamma rays with pinpoint accuracy to treat lesions in the brain. Despite its name, Gamma Knife surgery involves neither traditional surgery nor an actual knife. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is called “surgery” because its outcome is similar to that of a surgical procedure. Radiosurgery is useful in the management of small noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) brain tumors. Radiosurgery damages the genetic material (DNA) in the tumour's cells. The cells lose their ability to reproduce and may die, and the tumor may gradually shrink.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a very precise form of radiation therapy that focuses intense beams of gamma rays with pinpoint accuracy to treat lesions in the brain.
Despite its name, Gamma Knife surgery involves neither traditional surgery nor an actual knife. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is called “surgery” because its outcome is similar to that of a surgical procedure.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be effective in treating tumours, blood vessel malformations and nerve conditions. In each instance, surgeons and radiation oncologists use the Gamma Knife system somewhat differently:
· Radiosurgery for tumour treatment works by damaging or destroying the DNA of tumour cells so that these cells cannot reproduce or grow. Over time, the brain tumour shrinks.
· For blood vessel malformations, such as an arteriovenous malformation, Gamma Knife treatment causes the malformed blood vessels gradually to close off.
· When nerves are the target for treatment, as in the case of the pain disorder trigeminal neuralgia, radiosurgery diminishes the function of improperly acting nerves, which provides relief.
Our Gamma Knife Center is home to the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, the latest Gamma Knife system. This stationary unit delivers beams of highly focused gamma rays. It enables our neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to provide world-class care.
Many beams of gamma radiation, each emitted from a different location outside the head, join to focus on the lesion—without a surgical incision. On its own, each beam carries a very low dose of radiation and has minimal effect on the healthy tissue through which it passes, but when they converge on the lesion, the beams combine to provide a precise, intense dose of radiation. Your medical team will program the Gamma Knife system with extreme precision to deliver the radiation necessary for your individual situation—the strength of the beams, the angles from which they arrive, the number of times they are discharged and the exact location that is their destination.
Although other radiosurgery systems are available, our neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists use the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon because it is designed specifically for treating lesions in the brain and has the greatest precision and accuracy of any radiosurgery system to date.
Another advantage of the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon is its superior ability to spare healthy brain tissue, as compared with other systems. Other radiosurgery systems must deliver high doses of radiation to a specified margin of healthy tissue around the lesion to ensure complete destruction of the lesion. Because the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon has such high accuracy and precision, this added margin is reduced to 1mm, which is approximately the thickness of one sheet of paper.
Avoiding unnecessary radiation is particularly important for children, who may be more at risk than adults for late effects from radiation. Children treated with the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon may have a much lower likelihood of developing late effects than do those treated by other systems.
The Gamma Knife system has improved with each new model; among other notable advantages over earlier models, the latest Leksell Gamma Knife Icon:
· Uses either a head frame or a frameless face mask to secure the head during treatment
· Treats both small and large tumours
· Treats lesions near critical structures
Earlier models used only a head frame, which is not necessary for certain conditions. The face mask is often more comfortable for patients than the head frame, so having both the head frame and face mask as options allows our neurosurgeons to recommend the option best for your unique condition.