Monday, April 16, 2007

Gamma Knife surgery

A brain tumor is one of those things that we hope we never have to deal with. Just like any other type of cancer I guess.

Leksell Gamma Knife is the ONLY stereotactic radiosurgery system specifically approved for treating brain tumors, also know as brain metastases, based on long-term scientific proof. Here's why leading neurosurgeons worldwide choose Gamma Knife surgery for their patients.

It can be difficult to sort out competing claims, especially if your doctor isn’t providing you with information. To begin, let’s define a few terms that you probably aren’t familiar with if you’re not in the medical field.

Radiosurgery is the delivery of a single, large dose of radiation to a specific target in the brain with surgical precision. The radiation will react on a molecular level with the cancer cells and stop their reproduction, which kills the cancer.

Stereotactic radiosurgery, as is used in Gamma Knife surgery, means a 3D reference frame will be attached to your head during the procedure. This type of frame is used for almost all major neurosurgery, and it is simply a lightweight metal frame with pins that are secured to your head in four spots. Patients say it can be somewhat uncomfortable for the few hours your wear it, but the absolute assurance of accuracy is worth it.

CyberKnife doesn’t use a frame, but instead relies on a claustrophobic mask to restrict head movement. This type of mask was tried with Gamma Knife, but discarded because it didn’t offer the certainty of the stereotactic frame. So technically, CyberKnife is not “stereotactic radiosurgery” because it doesn’t use a 3D reference frame.

Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so accurate, the full dose of radiation can be delivered during a single session, compared with multiple visits for CyberKnife. And you don’t have to worry about excess radiation – the Gamma Knife system’s intelligent design keeps radiation from the rest of the body. In fact, CyberKnife has 100 times more stray radiation in a given treatment compared to Gamma Knife.

The actual Gamma Knife surgery is a gentle treatment with little or no pain that can be performed on an outpatient basis in a few hours. There are minimal side effects – some people may complain of a headache, which can be treated with aspirin. There is no loss of hair or nausea, as with some treatments. Recovery time is usually a few days with no need for convalescence or rehabilitation.

Unlike invasive surgery, it can be used repeatedly over time if new brain tumors occur – which would be very risky with open skull surgery. And because it’s noninvasive, Gamma Knife surgery can be used to treat metastases in surgically inoperable tumors.

Less than 10,000 patients have been treated for brain tumors using CyberKnife in the past 10 years, compared to 400,000 patients with Gamma Knife surgery. Why is that? When most doctors are asked what they would choose for their family members, they choose Gamma Knife because they trust the clinical evidence (2,000 published papers) and know that it works.


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