Gamma knife is an extraordinary method that allows neurosurgeons to perform surgery in abnormal areas of the brain without the need for any incision. Gamma knife is applied using a technique called stereotactic radiosurgery. Gamma knife is a treatment system that allows the diseased brain tissue with specified coordinates to be destroyed with gamma rays. The system is basically based on the principle that the rays coming from 201 spherically located and separate sources, each of which has the energy not to damage the normal brain tissue on its own, combine at one point (in the diseased brain tissue) to transfer a very high energy to the diseased tissue and remove this tissue. Therefore, in this surgical method, which differs from radiation therapy, the treatment is completed in one session. It is a method generally preferred when open neurosurgery is not possible or has a high risk. The effectiveness of gamma knife surgery depends on the sensitivity of the machine used in the treatment and the methods used to detect abnormal tissue in the brain. By applying the stereotactic frame to the patient, the location of the tumor is determined precisely while keeping the patient in the required position inside the machine.
How is treatment done with the Gamma knife?
First of all, a metal frame is fixed to the head to keep the head stable. This is vital for the correct treatment and delivery of radiation where it is needed. A metal frame is applied to the patient who comes to the hospital after a light breakfast in about 10 minutes. During this procedure, local anesthesia is applied to the areas where the frame is placed on the head.
After making sure that the frame is well placed, it is time to take images. After taking the image of the diseased area, it is time for treatment. The required position is taken in the frame, the patient is placed on the treatment machine and made as comfortable as possible. The procedures to be done are explained to him. Then the patient is moved into the machine and radiation therapy is started. After each beam is given to the right place in the required time, the patient is removed from the machine, its frame is taken and the service is monitored.
What types of brain tumors can be treated with the gamma knife?
With the gamma knife, both benign brain tumors (meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, acoustic neuromas) and malignant brain tumors (brain metastases, glial tumors) can be treated. It is also used in vascular brain diseases (arteriovenous malformations) and functional brain diseases (trigeminal neuralgia, parkinsonism, epilepsy) as well as gamma knife brain tumor.
What are the advantages of gamma knife treatment?
• Gamma knife is the only non-invasive “surgical treatment” method. In other words, surgical treatment provides certainty without opening the skull.
• One day after gamma knife treatment, the patient can return to normal social and work life.
• The fact that general anesthesia is not used in the treatment makes it possible to treat patients who cannot undergo open surgery.
• The hospital stay is one day.
• The extremely short length of stay in the hospital, the absence of the need for intensive care, the patient’s ability to return to work immediately reduces the cost.
• Treatment-related death risk is less than 0.5%.
• The risk of permanent disability due to treatment is less than 2%.
• The risk of temporary disability due to treatment is less than 3%.