The Gamma Knife® team at St. Luke’s The Woodlands offers one of the most technologically advanced means of treating brain disorders. This well-established treatment method, known as stereotactic radiosurgery, delivers high doses of radiation to targeted areas of the brain while minimizing exposure to healthy brain tissue. The treatment is simple, non-invasive and painless and can be performed in a single session in a matter of hours.
St. Luke's The Woodlands is proud to be the first to bring Gamma Knife® technology to the North Houston and Montgomery County communities.
Today, this surgery method is preformed in hundreds of leading hospitals and clinics around the world. More than 30,000 patients will undergo Gamma Knife® surgery each year. No other non-invasive treatment method in this field has greater clinical acceptance,* and it has been in clinical use since 1968.
Alternative to Open Surgery
Gamma Knife® surgery can be an alternative or a complement to open surgery. The procedure, usually performed by a neurosurgeon accompanied by a radiation oncologist and medical physicist, provides lower complication rates than open surgery. Advanced computer software and an automatic positioning system move the patient at every phase to ensure treatment is delivered to exactly the right area — quickly, painlessly, effectively.
The cost for radiosurgery is normally half the cost for open surgery. Most importantly, Gamma Knife® surgery offers a more favorable quality of life during and after the procedure.
Since no incisions are made, the risk of surgical complications is low and treatment is much shorter and causes only minor discomfort. The patient’s head does not need to be shaved and side effects are minimal. Possible side effects may occur immediately following treatment, but the effects disappear soon after the procedure. Usually completed in one session and taking no more than a few hours, patients can return home the same day or the day after treatment.
Four Simple Steps
Prior to treatment, the physician discusses the entire procedure with the patient. In most cases, patients are given a single treatment, involving four main steps:
• Attaching the Frame
• Treatment Planning
Attaching the Frame
A lightweight frame is attached to the patient’s head and remains on throughout the entire procedure to stabilize the patient’s head during imaging and treatment. Attaching the frame takes about 15 minutes and includes the following steps:
• local anesthetic is applied to where the frame is to be attached
• once the anesthetic takes effect, the frame is attached to the patient’s head with four screws
• a special device is used to define the position of the patient’s head in relation to the frame
• after the head frame is in place; the imaging process begins
To provide reference points on the images for the treatment plan, a coordinate box is used to precisely define the location, size, and shape of the treatment area. These images will be transferred to a sophisticated treatment planning computer. Once the images are recorded, the physician will develop a treatment plan. Meanwhile patients can rest, eat, drink, read or even watch TV.
Together with other specialists on the team, the physician will produce a three-dimensional treatment plan, which is tailor-made for the patient’s medical condition. Before beginning treatment, the physician will discuss with the patient the duration of the procedure.
The treatment is silent and totally painless. Throughout the entire procedure, a specialized team takes care of the patient, who is usually awake and is able to communicate through an audio/visual connection.
Once the treatment is complete, the frame will be removed. Some patients may experience a mild headache or minor swelling where the frame was attached, but most report no problems. Within a day or so after treatment, patients are usually able to return to their normal daily routines.
The physician stays in contact with the patient for periodic follow-ups and consultations. The effects of the treatment will occur over time. Radiation treatment is designed to stop the growth of tumors and lesions, which means that results will be seen after a period of weeks or even months.
* Leskell Gamma Knife® Facts and Figures: elekta.com/patient