Gamma Knife is a highly focused beam of radiation that is used to treat brain conditions such as a brain tumour. This type of treatment is called stereotactic radiosurgery. Gamma Knife is such a specialist type of treatment, that it is only available in certain hospitals around the world, and a technology that only certain surgeons know how to use.

Gamma Knife is just one option when it comes to radiosurgery. It is important that you understand all of your options and discuss these fully with your consultant.

Gamma Knife treatment gives a high dose of radiation to a small targeted area of the brain without damaging the health of surrounding tissue. In most cases, patients will usually only have one course of Gamma Knife treatment, however some patients may have more than one. Both children and adults can have this treatment.

Gamma Knife can be used to treat a variety of different brain conditions, including:

  • Brain tumours
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (pain in the face that is caused by a compressed nerve)
  • Arteriovenous malformation (a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connection, this is a condition that patients are born with)
  • Cavernomas (a cluster of abnormal blood vessels)
  • Some forms of epilepsy

If you are having Gamma Knife treatment, then you will have a team of different specialists that come together to ensure that the surgery is as safe and successful as possible. The team will usually be made up of:

  • A neuro-oncologist – A doctor that specialises in the treatment of brain tumours and nervous system tumours
  • A neurosurgeon – A doctor that specialises in the treatment of conditions that relate to the brain, spine and other parts of the nervous system
  • A radiographer – A healthcare professional that specialises in imaging procedures

(This combination of doctors will not be the same for ever patients, as they will ensure that the right people for your individual needs is present for your surgery)

Alternative treatments to Gamma Knife include (these will depend on what condition it is being used to treat:

  • Medication
  • Open surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • CyberKnife

Preparing for Gamma Knife surgery

You may be asked to wash your hair with a special shampoo prior to the procedure, to ensure that you are prepared. You will be asked to remove personal belongings such as makeup, hairclips, contact lenses ect. You will also be asked to just stick to water 12 hours before the surgery.

As the surgery is done under local anaesthetic, most patients are able to return home the same day as the surgery. It is important to note that the patient will be awake during the surgery however will not be able to feel any pain.

If you have any questions, it is important that you ask your surgeon; no question is too big. Being fully informed will help you to be more at ease.

Find out more about CyberKnife here

Watch our YouTube video all about radiosurgery

gamma knife radiosurgery

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.