Gamma Knife treatment, the latest precision Radio therapy can replace brain surgery in many patients with brain tumors, vascular malformations and facial pain. This treatment is favourable when surgical interventions pose a very high risk, when patients are of advanced age, experiencing very high physical and mental stress impacting surgery and healing, in poor medical condition or where the lesions are situated in inaccessible or functionally critical area within the brain. Gamma Knife treatment is also used when prior surgery or radiation therapy has failed to control the disease process. It can also be used in conjunction with conventional surgery in previously inoperable cases, other forms of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Conventional radiation therapy and surgery cannot be used freely in young children because of risks of cognitive problems in later life. However, the technique of Radio surgery through Gamma Knife allows many children with brain tumors to be treated with radiation in a safe and effective manner since beams focus precisely on the target tissue, effects on surrounding brain and other critical nerve and blood vessel structures are minimized. This option will require the guidance of pediatric experts – pediatric oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists.
Doctors also use this type of treatment for non-cancerous conditions, such as arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and Chordomas. Gamma knife treatment can work very well for few types of brain tumours including;
- Small secondary brain tumours
- Small pituitary adenomas
- Haemangioblastomas that couldn’t be removed, were only partially removed, or came back after surgery
- Meningiomas, smaller than 3cm
- Glioma that has come back and is smaller than 3cm
- an acoustic neuroma, that is less than 3cm across
We must take note that specialists don’t recommend Gamma Knife radiosurgery for larger brain tumours. It isn’t possible to get the same dose of radiotherapy throughout the treatment area with a large tumour. Radiosurgery may also not be suitable if there are certain nerves running through the treatment area. The nerves could get too much radiation and be damaged. We also need to note that this option may not be considered suitable by doctors for children under 3 years of age due to the requirement of a metal head frame fixed on the patient for Gamma Knife surgery.
Finally, the patient’s doctor and the Gamma Knife team should be able to review each patient’s record to determine if Gamma Knife treatment would be advantageous based on the patient’s medical and surgical history, clinical examinations, Imaging studies, such as MRI, CT and/or PET scans.