Gamma Knife Procedure
How Gamma Knife Surgery Destroys Brain Tumors
Gamma Knife surgery is “stereotactic radiosurgery.” That means it uses 3-D positioning tools to shoot a dose of radiation at precisely the right spot. Radiation can kill brain tumors — or treat lesions that control other brain disorders.
To do this, a patient wears a frame over his head during Gamma Knife surgery. The frame helps surgeons pinpoint the exact treatment location and holds the patient’s head still as radiation is delivered.
A team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and radiation physicists uses a computer to carefully plan the amount of radiation needed for the size and shape of the tumor or lesion. Then, the Gamma Knife machine aims hundreds of tiny radiation beams at the spot. Each beam is too weak to damage the tissue by itself. But all the beams meet at a target spot, where the radiation combines to damage diseased tissue. Healthy tissue outside the spot isn’t harmed.
Because Gamma Knife is so accurate, patients can receive a full dose of radiation all at once. There is no need to have multiple treatments, as with other types of radiosurgery.
Gamma Knife surgery takes only a few hours, but the results unfold over several weeks or months.