Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a technique that uses intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery. It may be helpful in treating brain metastases.
What is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases?
Brain metastases are nodules of cancer cells from other organs and tissues that are deposited into the brain after having traveled through the blood. Gamma Knife treatment allows metastases within the skull to be targeted with high dosages of radiation.
How is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases performed?
The patient is lightly sedated and then given a local anesthesia, where the stereotactic frame is placed to subject the patient to imaging tests (brain MRI with gadolinium). The images will allow the specialist to plan for the most proper form of treatment. Once decided upon, the patient will lay with a stereotactic frame fixed onto the Gamma Knife bed. The treatment can last from one to six hours, depending on the needs of the patient and the target area for radiation.
What are the advantages to undergoing Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases?
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure , done in a single session and free of pain and surgical incisions. The procedure is almost always done on an outpatient basis and the patient is usually discharged the same day or the next.
Is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases painful or dangerous?
The procedure is not painful, though the patient may feel pain during positioning of the four small metal pins to stabilize the helmet. During the actual treatment, the patient will undergo subtle movements of the head, though they will not experience any pain or noises. The risks associated with this procedure are: neurological disorders (estimated risk <5%), stroke (estimated risk <1%); seizures(estimated risk <5%); pain following treatment (estimated risk <5%); and thromboembolic risk (estimated risk <1%).
Which patients can undergo this procedure?
Patients with brain metastases can undergo this procedure. A neurosurgeon or radiation oncologist will visit the patient to confirm the indication for treatment.
The results of the procedure are not immediate . The patient will be informed of any additional examinations that need to be carried out during discharge. Sometimes, accumulations of metastatic phones are so small that they are not visible during an MRI scan but rather seen during a follow up appointment. Therefore, additional Gamma Knife treatment or other types of therapy may be necessary.
What steps should be taken to help prepare for this procedure?
A few days before undergoing the procedure, the patient will travel to Humanitas for pre-admission and will be subjected to a blood test, an electrocardiogram (ECG), and a medical examination for a complete compilation of medical records. It is important that the patient announce any allergies to medications or contrast agents, or claustrophobia. On the day of the procedure, the patient should be accompanied by a family member or an acquaintance and should have been fasting from midnight the night before. On the night before the procedure, the patient should cleanse themselves with a product-based disinfectant shampoo, such as chlorhexidine. It is best to avoid wearing any jewelry: brooches, hairpins, makeup, hair products, and artificial nails; but rather wear comfortable clothing and footwear, preferably with buttons or zippers.