How Gamma Knife Works

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Radiosurgery: How It Works

Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers radiation more accurately than conventional radiation. It creates high-energy beams of radiation strong enough to deactivate even the most aggressive tumors.

Gamma Knife also reduces the risk of damage to healthy areas of the brain. We often recommend it for brain tumors in hard-to-reach places.

Choosing UVA for Gamma Knife

An alternative to brain surgery, Gamma Knife radiosurgery uses focused radiation to target tumors, vascular malformations and other abnormalities in the brain.

Mask-Based vs Frame-Based Procedures

Gamma Knife precisely targets brain tumors. To do that, we make sure your head remains perfectly still during the procedure using either a frame or mask.

Your care team will review the frame or mask options with you and together you'll decide on the right approach for you. Whether you have a frame-based procedure or mask-based procedure depends on things like:

  • Tumor location in your head
  • Your anatomy around the tumor
  • Treatments you may have gotten in the past
  • Your specific care plan
  • Your preferences

Before, During & After the Procedure

The procedure is simple and painless.

1. Preparation

We attach a mesh covering or frame to prevent your head from moving. This helps us accurately target the treatment.

2. Imaging

We determine the exact size, shape, and position of the target in your brain. You'll have MRI, CT, or angiography scans. 

3. Treatment Planning

Your doctor uses your scans to develop a precise treatment plan. No two treatment plans are alike. 

4. Treatment

When treatment starts:

  • 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 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: Recovery Time

If you had an angiogram, you might have to lie quietly for several hours. 

You may stay overnight for observation or return home immediately. However, you should be able to return to your normal routine in a day or so.

6. Follow-Up

The effects of your treatment will occur over time — a period of weeks or months. We may evaluate your progress with follow-up scans.