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Whether good or malignant - brain tumors are either surgically removed or irradiated today. With the gamma knife, a radiometer, a brain tumor can be treated without surgery.
In the case of irradiation, a distinction is made between irradiation with the linear accelerator, which usually lasts several weeks (fractional), and radiosurgical single (one-time) high-precision irradiation with the gamma knife.
In the Gamma Knife, 201 small cobalt radiators, distributed over a hemisphere, are used for radiosurgical irradiation. Their low-dose rays are concentrated in one point. The effect is comparable to that of a burning glass. The result is a very high punctual radiation dose, which is directed to the tenth of a millimeter precisely on the diseased tissue, so that the tumor is completely extinguished, but healthy brain structures are spared.
Radiosurgery offers an alternative if you want to avoid open skull surgery for brain disease. Irradiation with the Gamma Knife is particularly gentle. Both benign and malignant tumors are treated with this method. In addition, malformations of cerebral vessels and facial pain can be treated with it.
As Gamma Knife therapy is usually carried out on an outpatient basis, most patients can return to their normal daily routine the very next day.
Gamma Knife™ Surgery actually is not surgery but radiotherapy method developed specially for cerebral tumors and some other diseases associated with brain and cerebral vessels. It is called ‘surgery’ as technique has the similar effect destroying the tumors cells and preventing them from growing and spreading, and dispelling lesions. The difference is that an effect of Gamma Knife™ is not immediate, the time is required for the tumors ceasing, so it could not be used for acute conditions requiring immediate surgery.
Normally, Gamma Knife™ is used for small tumors not exceeding 5 cm. Using radiology, it is possible to treat even those tumors that are not accessible with operational methods, that is why magic knife gives a chance to those patients whose condition before considered inoperable and, accordingly, hopeless.
Essence of Gamma Knife™ Treatment
Gamma Knife™ is not a knife; it is directed beam of about Gamma rays, those separately have low radioactive dose and do not damage the healthy tissues they pass. But gathered into one point they deliver powerful dose to destroy lesion. Gamma Knife™ is a minimally invasive method and has some preferences against traditional surgery:
- It is possible to reach some spots that are not reachable with neurosurgery;
- Gamma Knife™ does not damage surrounding tissues;
- The technique could deal with inoperable tumors;
- The method has not common complications as blood loss and infections;
- It is possible to use radiotherapy in those patients who have contradictions to surgery;
- There is no general anesthesia and, accordingly, its side effects;
- It is one-day procedure that does not require hospitalization;
- There is no long recovery period;
- It is cheaper then surgical intervention.
The procedure itself is similar to the other radiotherapy treatments. It is important for head of patient to be settled in fixed position and a special frame is used for this purposes. After it has done, the location of the target object is determined with MRI or CT Scan. It worth to note, that the whole team work together in one-séance treatment including a radiation therapist, oncologist, neurosurgeon, medical physicist, dosimetrist and nurse. All of them together are perform accurate diagnostic, make a decision on treatment procedure, and calculate a dose of exposure and exact location of its applying.
After designing of treatment plan and determining the radiation dose the procedure itself begin. The special helmet are placed above the patient’s head located motionless in the frame. The helmet has numerous small holes allowing to focus Gamma rays in one spot and ensure high radiation dose. The session could last from a few minutes to some hours depending on individual situation. Normally, the patient does not required special care after treatment and can go home.
Indication for Gamma Knife™ Applying
As it was said, Gamma Knife™ which us also called stereotactic radiosurgery is specially intended for cerebral disorders to replace surgery and it used for:
- Different kinds of tumors, especially, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, pinealomas, pituitary adenomas, metastases and some others including brain cancer;
- Trigeminal neuralgia;
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders;
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVM).
It is important to say the doctors in advance if you have some metal implants. Eyes glasses, jewelry, hair pieces, makeup, contact lenses, nail polish are not allowed. It is necessary to take off all the clothes and wear a gown during the procedure. You do not need any shaving prior to the treatment. You will receive a local anesthesia in the places where the frame is attached. Sometimes sedative medication could be given to patient for relaxing.
During the procedure the patient lays in a bed that moves into machine. The IV is given to avoid rehydration. There is a break between a diagnostic part and treatment itself when the patient could relax and move. At the beginning of radiotherapy the frame will be attached to the helmet to avoid any possibility to shift.
The patient do not feel radiation or experience any other sensations. The machine works silent without any noise. It is possible to talk with the work team via microphone. The doctors observes the patient on monitor.
- The side effects of treatment might include:
- Fatigue and tiredness;
- Headache and nausea;
- Pain and some bleeding in the points where the frame was pinned to the skull;
- Swelling around exposed location.
Above affects are normally represented early after treatment and temporary.
Gamma Knife™ radiosurgery is a progressive method allowing dealing with different cerebral problems including some considered incurable. With this non-invasive method you may get rid of many complications of traditional surgery. The clinics in Germany provide professional assistance in diagnosis and treatment of any brain issues liable to radiotherapy. Just make a call to apply for procedure.