It sounds like traditional surgery and it may offer similar outcomes. However, it doesn’t require general anesthesia, a hospital stay or traditional healing time. This outpatient procedure, called radiosurgery, is used for a variety of neurological disorders because of its high degree of accuracy, the ability to treat functional disorders and brain tumors without an incision, and the need for just one session.
Akron General is pleased to offer the area’s only Gamma Knife for radiosurgery. This is a single-session stereotactic procedure performed by a neurosurgeon/radiation oncology team that treats a very targeted area. Radiosurgery, in some cases, may be a preferred treatment for brain tumors, movement disorders and more because it is a precise, single-dose procedure, but can also deliver radiation to multiple sites.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery has been approved for treating brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), vestibular schwannomas, brain tumors that affect the ear and hearing, meningiomas, pituitary tumors, trigeminal neuralgia, and brain metastases. Industry research is currently underway to test the effectiveness of Gamma Knife in the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and uveal melanoma.
This treatment can be very helpful for patients who want to avoid the risks of traditional surgery and damage to surrounding tissues, or those that have multiple tumor sites, such as brain metastasis. It has also been combined with traditional surgery to prevent re-growth of brain tumors.
What Gamma Knife Patients Can Expect
Whether they are from our community in Northeast Ohio, or they’ve traveled from another state, our patients can expect to receive a customized treatment plan and the support of our Gamma Knife team before, during and after their care. We work with the referring physician and medical team to thoroughly understand the diagnosis, review the patient’s medical history and assess whether or not Gamma Knife therapy may be beneficial.
For patients from out of the area, an office visit and work-up is required before treatment is scheduled. Following this visit, radiosurgery can typically then be scheduled in a close time-frame, which is especially important for those who may be traveling from outside of the area.
On the day of the procedure, patients will receive a small amount of sedation and a local anesthetic on the scalp followed by application of the head frame. Next, an MRI will be performed, which takes approximately 20-25 minutes. This helps to pinpoint the treatment area that day, for the most accurate results. When the treatment is determined, the frame helps to guide the dose of radiation, which typically takes between 30-90 minutes.
Patients experience no pain or discomfort during the Gamma Knife treatment and can listen to music or simply relax. After the procedure, the frame is removed and a compressive dressing is applied to the scalp. The experience can be compared to the discomfort of a tight hat or even a hair band. Often a NSAID pain reliever is all that is needed. After a short period of observation, patients are able to go home.
The total time required is four to six hours and then follow-up with the Gamma Knife team or their referring provider on a regular basis. Over a period of a few months to two years, the lesion will shrink.
As a patient leaves, they are provided with information to take home that explains the treatment they’ve had and what they need to share with their care providers in the future.
For more information about Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at Akron General, please call 330.34GAMMA (330.344.2662).