Gamma knife surgery is a non-intrusive, computer-guided procedure that uses high-focused beams of radiation to eliminate masseuses and lesions in the brain. It is one of the most modern techniques to deal with arteriovenous malfunctions, acoustic neuroma, trigeminal neuralgia, and different forms of brain tumors. The procedure is popularly called stereotactic radiosurgery.
Unlike the traditional invasive procedure, this does not require surgeons to make incisions in the brain and skull but uses radiation to kill abnormal tissues and tumors in the brain.
Gamma Knife surgery definition
The procedure does not include a knife to many skulls or skin incisions despite the name. Instead, it requires high beams of radiation focused at a particular point to burn the infected cells and tissues. Approximately 192 beamlets of radiation are used under the targeted brain region, sparing the normal tissues surrounding it. As mentioned above, the procedure can cure several brain abnormalities, including the following:
- Malignant and non-malignant brain tumors like meningiomas, chondrosarcomas, glial tumors, pituitary adenomas, metastases, and craniopharyngiomas
- Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous growth around the hearing and balancing neurons that connect the brain with the inner ear.
- Arteriovenous malformations, which are typically tangles of blood vessels
- Tremors from Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors, and more
- Different types of epilepsy
- Trigeminal neuralgia
It is one of the best procedures when traditional brain surgery methods are not feasible for a particular condition.
The procedure of Gamma Knife surgery
The process involves the following steps:
- Frame placement: The patient is given a head frame secured to the skull using pins and scores. Keeping the head in place is essential to target the radiation in the right area.
- Imaging: MRI and CT scans are performed to get a detailed image of the brain and the affected area. This helps in treatment planning.
- Treatment planning: Depending on the condition and type of disease, the medical team uses specialized software to plan a treatment procedure. In this step, professionals also determine the exact amount of radiation that needs to be targeted to the affected area.
- Treatment: Once the procedure is drafted, the patient is positioned under the Gamma knife machine, and the radiation beams are targeted to the specific area of the brain. Depending on the size and intensity of the tumor, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few houses.
Gamma Knife surgery risks
Although the procured is mostly considered safe, like other medical procedures, this too carries some risks:
- Swelling and bleeding in the brain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Hair loss
- Cognitive changes
Gamma Knife surgery outcome
The procedure’s outcome and success factor depend on the location and type of brain disorder under study. The procedure has a high success rate, especially in treating brain tumors and AVMs. Patients also experience minimal discomfort after the procedure, and many will return to normal activities a few days after the procedure. However, it is not a cure for all types of brain disorders, and follow-up will be required in most cases.