What to Expect
What to expect before, during and after Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
How It Works
Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers radiation in a more accurate and precise fashion than conventional radiation therapy.
It works by passing high-energy beams of radiation through to the tumor from all different vantage points. While each single beam of radiation is relatively weak, the point where all the beams meet receives a very powerful amount of radiation. The sum total of all of the beams is strong enough to inactivate even some of the most aggressive tumors.
Gamma Knife also reduces the risk of damage to healthy areas of the brain and is often recommended for tumors in hard to reach places within the brain.
Before, During and After the Procedure
The procedure is simple and painless.
1. Attaching the Head Frame
We attach a lightweight frame to your head with four screws and a local anesthetic to prevent your head from moving so that the neurosurgeon can accurately target the treatment.
After the head frame is in place, we determine the exact size, shape and position of the target in your brain, using either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or angiography.
During imaging, a coordinate box is placed on the head frame to provide reference points on the images for the treatment plan. After imaging, the box is removed.
3. Treatment Planning
Once imaging has been completed, your doctor develops a precise treatment plan, During this time, you can rest. No two treatment plans are alike; every patient’s plan is designed to address the patient’s specific medical condition. The doctor, sometimes with another team specialist, enters the imaging data and other information into a computer and calculates how the treatment should be performed.
Once your treatment plan is completed, the actual treatment can start:
- You will lie down on the treatment couch.
- The head frame will be attached to a helmet.
- The couch will move into the dome section of the unit.
- The team monitor the procedure at all times.
- The treatment will last anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size and shape of the target.
During the treatment, you can:
- Stay awake
- Talk to the doctor or nurse
- Listen to music
5. After the Treatment
When your treatment is complete, the head frame will be removed. If you had an angiogram, you might have to lie quietly for several more hours. While some patients experience a mild headache or minor swelling where the head frame was attached, which we can treat with pain relievers, most report no problems.
You may stay overnight for observation or return home immediately. However, you should be able to return to your normal routines in a day or so.
The effects of your treatment will occur over time - a period of weeks or months. We may evaluate your progress with follow-up MRI, CT or angiography images.