Advantages and Outcomes

Advantages

Gamma Knife® radiosurgery offers several advantages over both conventional neurosurgery and other forms of stereotactic radiosurgery.

Safety

Because Gamma Knife treatment is non-invasive, it eliminates the risk of complications, such as hemorrhage and infection, associated with conventional open skull procedures. Adults do not require general anesthesia. Nausea, vomiting and headaches, often side effects of external beam radiation, are virtually eliminated. Patients undergoing Gamma Knife treatment can go home on the same day as compared to three to five days for conventional surgery.

The Gamma Knife procedure spares surrounding normal tissue because the energy of each individual beam is too weak on its own to cause damage as it passes through skin, bone and brain on route to the target. Yet, at the point that 201 beams converge, a therapeutic dose of radiation is precisely targeted to destroy the abnormality.

Precision

The Gamma Knife is exquisitely precise compared to other forms of stereotactic radiosurgery devices. Three-dimensional computerized dosimetry results in accuracy at the target site of 1/10 of a millimeter. Beyond the lesion, the radiation fall-off is very rapid, minimizing the risk to surrounding anatomical structures. Patients receive treatment that is specifically tailored for them with the help of the Gamma Knife team and sophisticated diagnostic and dosimetry techniques.

Cost Efficiency

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is less expensive when compared with conventional neurosurgery. There is little or no hospital stay, expensive medication or lengthy recovery. POst-surgical disability and rehabilitation costs are greatly reduced.

Effectiveness

Gamma Knife treatment is highly effective, with proven results over 25 years of world-wide experience. No mortality and few complications have been reported.

Outcomes

Results of Gamma Knife surgery vary with the type, location, and size of the tumor or malformation. Some of the outcomes of treatment by condition include:

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) - Approximately 80 percent of AVMs treated with the Gamma Knife are obliterated within two to three years.
  • Acoustic neuromas - Tumor growth is controlled in greater than 90 percent of patients with almost no risk of facial nerve injury. Hearing can be preserved in many cases.
  • Benign tumors - Many unresectable meningiomas, pituitary adenomas and craniopharyngiomas have been successfully treated with Gamma Knife therapy.
  • Malignant tumors - Surgically inaccessible brain metastases, multiple brain metastases and radioresistant tumors such as anaplastic gliomas and glioblastoma multiforme can also benefit.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia - Gamma Knife treatment is an alternative, non-invasive therapy to consider when evaluating patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

Success Stories

Hope in the Heartland: Wichita Woman Benefits From Cutting-Edge Medical Technology
Louise Helton didn't know where to turn. Physicians had informed the 69-year-old Wichita grandmother that a tumor had developed behind her right ear and was extending around her brain stem. After being referred to a top Wichita neurosurgery practice, Helton was told the case was "beyond their scope."

A glimmer of hope arose when a friend in Kansas City mentioned something called the Gamma Knife. "I was desperate," says Helton. "My face had been partially paralyzed, I could hardly walk and one eye had all but closed up. I felt as if I was running out of time."

Helton met with the team at the Midwest Gamma Knife Center in Kansas City and was scheduled for the non-invasive brain surgery. Arriving at the hospital the day of the procedure, Helton was given tests to guide her surgeon, Geoffrey Blatt, MD, and determine the meningioma's (Helton's type of tumor) location. The information was the plotted into a computer, and a special helmet was placed on Helton's head. Shaped like a sieve, the helmet has 201 holes that allow pencil-thin beams of radiation to pass through, but not cut the patient's skull and brain tissue. Only the point where all the rays meet gets treated with a large dose of radiation. Helton was given a mild sedative during which she received 28 shots from the cobalt source. Dr. Blatt and his team kept Helton informed each step of the way with information about what they were abut to do and what to expect.

"It was all so quick and easy. I can't say enough about the Gamma Knife Center in Kansas City," says Helton. "I stayed overnight at the hospital. When I awoke, my eye opened fully, I was walking better and raring to go!" Helton says she credits her miraculous recovery to the highly personal care and pain-free procedure she experienced at Midwest Gamma Knife Center.

Imagine brain surgery without any incision. No scalpel or danger of destroying healthy tissue. Sound like science fiction? It's not.

"That's what is so remarkable about the Gamma Knife," explains Jonathan Chilton, MD, neurosurgery director of the Midwest Gamma Knife Center in Kansas City. "It allows us to effectively treat many serious brain abnormalities with a risk of complications that is less than that of traditional neurosurgery."

And how is Helton now? "Helton is healthy and active," reports Blatt. "The tumor is not gone, but it has not grown since treatment. The odds are it will not grow or cause further symptoms. She really is a testament to the power of this important new tool in fighting tumors."

Hope in the Heartland: Topeka Man Benefits From Cutting-Edge Medical Technology
Jordan Seitz, a 71-year-old Topeka grandfather and retired U.S. Army officer, had received devastating news. Seitz had what is called acoustic neuroma. The tumor had developed behind his right ear and had lost all hearing in his right ear.

After calling around to trusted doctors and even consulting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Seitz realized his best hope lay with something called the Gamma Knife.

Seitz met with the team at the Midwest Gamma Knife Center in Kansas City and was scheduled for the non-invasive brain surgery. Arriving at the hospital the day of the procedure, Seitz was given tests to guide his surgeon, Robert Morantz, MD. The information was then plotted into a computer and a special helmet was placed on Seitz's head.

Seitz was given a mild sedative during which he received 12 shots from the cobalt source. Dr. Morantz and his team kept Seitz informed each step of the way with information about what they were about to do and what to expect.

Seitz credits the highly personalized care he received at the Center and the pain-free nature of the procedure with his miraculous recovery. Said Seitz of his experience at Midwest Gamma Knife Center: "I even wrote to The Kansas City Star to tell them what a great medical resource we have in our area."

Bloodless, painless brain surgery is a reality with no scalpel or danger of destroying healthy tissue. "The beauty of the Gamma Knife," explains Jonathan Chilton, MD, neurosurgery director of the Midwest Gamma Knife Center in Kansas City, is that it allows us to treat brain tumors and other conditions non-invasively so the risk of complications can be greatly reduced."

And how is Seitz now? "More than five year after his Gamma Knife treatment, Seitz's lesion is stable. The tumor has not grown since treatment," reports Dr. Chilton.

Hope in the Heartland: Kansas City Woman Benefits From Cutting-Edge Medical Technology
Patsy Long was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1991. In May of 1996 at age 60, routine brain imaging revealed a right frontal metastasis approximately 1.5 cm in size. Cancer from her lung had spread to her brain. After thorough discussions with her oncologists and neurosurgeon, Jonathan Chilton, MD, Patsy and her son weighed the options and decided on Gamma Knife radiosurgery. The procedure was performed on May 30, 1996.

Patsy had been followed since that time with periodic MRI scans of her brain which had consistently shown control of her tumor with no growth or side effects. Almost five years after Gamma Knife treatment, Patsy continues to feel great and leads a full life. Although she has no problems or complaints, Patsy continues to be followed with periodic scans to ensure tumor control. If a new lesion is identified on subsequent scans, Patsy could be treated again with no additional risks or complications.

"Metastatic brain cancer is the number one indication for Gamma Knife radiosurgery," explains Dr. Chilton, director of the Midwest Gamma Knife Center. "We have the capability to treat heretofore inoperable tumors with a minimally invasive procedure that does not require hospitalization or convalescence.

Hope in the Heartland: Arkansas Woman Benefits From Cutting-Edge Medical Technology
Cindy was 21-years-old when her arteriovenous malformation (AVM) of the brain hemorrhaged. After a hospital stay of one month, Cindy was discharged in the care of her parents and was unable to walk or sit up and had very poor memory. She gradually recovered at home for the next 18 months, following which she obtained an apartment of her own. Because there was significant risk for further hemorrhage in her lifetime, Cindy and her parents reviewed and researched the options for treatment, including surgical removal of the AVM or stereotactic radiosurgery. Cindy did not want to take the chances associated with surgery or go through another extended period of recuperation. She elected to proceed with Gamma Knife radiosurgery. On Sept. 16, 1994, Cindy had the Gamma Knife procedure, which was performed by neurosurgeon, Jonathan Chilton, MD, and radiation oncologist, Jay Robinow, MD. Cindy had no problems and returned to Arkansas the following day.

Slightly more than one year after treatment, on Oct. 2, 1995, Cindy had a cerebral angiogram that showed nearly total obliteration of the AVM. A second angiogram at 37 months post-treatment showed complete obliteration of the malformation. Cindy no longer has to worry about the possibility of a devastating hemorrhage from this AVM, and no additional follow-up will be necessary.

Today, thanks to Gamma Knife treatment, Cindy leads a healthy and happy life. "Gamma Knife is rapidly replacing the need for open skull surgery for arteriovenous malformations," explains Dr. Chilton. "Although not all patients with AVMs are candidates for radiosurgery, every patient with an AVM should discuss this option with their neurosurgeon before proceeding with treatment."