A healthcare provider discusses how the gamma knife procedure can benefit a patient.

Gamma Knife

If you're facing brain surgery, you might have another option.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery uses focused radiation to target brain and pituitary tumors, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), acoustic neuromas and other conditions. When traditional brain surgery can't help or fails, Gamma Knife is the treatment of choice.

Without a scalpel or knife, Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers radiation more accurately than conventional radiation therapy. It creates high-energy beams of radiation strong enough to deactivate even some of the most aggressive tumors. 

Conditions We Treat

Gamma Knife Center

The Gamma Knife Center can treat your neurological conditions with a noninvasive technique without entering the skull. Schedule an appointment to learn more about this procedure. View gamma knife transcript.

Benefits & Safety

Gamma Knife VS. Traditional Surgery

Avoid these risks of traditional brain surgery:

  • Long hospital stays
  • Lengthy rehabilitation
  • Damage to healthy brain tissue
  • Surgical complications, like hemorrhage, infection and cerebral spinal fluid leak
  • General anesthesia dangers
  • Other physical trauma and disruption of normal brain function

Many insurance plans cover Gamma Knife treatment.

A Patient's Journey to be Cancer-Free

Carolyn Blackwell-Stark tells the story of her 11 year journey with reoccurring melanoma and why she chose UVA for continued care. Her neuroimaging results made her a prime candidate for the gamma knife procedure.  View Carolyn's story transcript.

Before the Procedure
A gamma knife provider standing in front of the gamma knife machine.
  • We attach a mesh covering or frame to prevent your head from moving. This allows your neurosurgeon to accurately target the treatment.
  • We determine the exact size, shape and position of the target in your brain.
  • Your doctor develops a precise treatment plan.
During
Two providers preparing a patient for a gamma knife procedure.
  • You lie down on the treatment couch.
  • The couch moves into the dome section of the unit.
  • The team monitors the procedure at all times.
  • The treatment lasts from a few minutes to more than an hour.  Time length depends on the size and shape of the target.
After
Gamma knife providers reviewing data on a computer screen.
  • If you had an angiogram, you might have to lie quietly for several more hours.
  • You may stay overnight for observation or return home immediately.
  • The effects of your treatment will occur over time. We may evaluate your progress with follow-up MRI, CT or angiography
Providers meeting with a patient sitting in the ICON gamma knife machine.

Gamma Knife Icon

We are the first center in Virginia to use Icon, which offers even more accuracy, precision and safety than previous models. This allows for treatment without the head frame required by previous Gamma Knife versions. With Icon, we can now treat patients with:

  • Large tumors
  • Lesions close to critical parts of the brain
  • Abnormal skull anatomy