What Can Patients Expect?
A patient who is about to undergo Gamma Knife
radiosurgery will receive an in-depth consultation
from our specialized Gamma Knife team.
On the day of the surgery, patients are fitted
with a lightweight head frame that allows physicians
to precisely pinpoint the area in the brain to
be targeted by radiation. The frame also keeps
patients from moving and remains on the patient
throughout the procedure. Local anesthetic is
applied to the areas where the frame will be
attached. Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not require
cutting or shaving hair.
When the frame is in place, the patient undergoes
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography
(CT), or angiography to create detailed images
of the target site within the brain. The Gamma
Knife team then develops a customized treatment
plan to determine exactly how much radiation
to administer, precisely where to focus it, and
how long the treatment should take.
the plan is ready, treatment begins. The head
frame is attached to a helmet and patients recline
on a couch that moves into the dome section of
the Gamma Knife system. The physicians then move
into a control room to administer the radiation;
however, they stay in contact with the patient
throughout the procedure through audio and video
connections. The treatment itself is silent and
painless and generally lasts about one hour.
When treatment is complete, the head frame is
removed. Most patients go home the same day;
in some cases, they’ll be asked to stay
overnight in the hospital for observation.
Since the effects of the radiation treatment
occur over time, follow-up is essential. Patients
return for regular imaging procedures (such as
MRI, CT, or angiography) over the next year so
physicians can track the gradual effect of the
Although outcomes vary among patients,
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is effective in shrinking,
and in some cases eliminating, brain lesions,
tumors, and venous malformations. In addition,
patients who undergo treatment for movement disorders,
epilepsy or pain syndromes such as trigeminal
neuralgia will see their symptoms resolve in
the weeks after the procedure.
Gamma Knife and Leksell Gamma
Knife are U.S. federally registered trademarks
of Elekta Instrument S.A., Geneva, Switzerland.
Photo credits: Susan Pardys, Elekta, Inc.