Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a technique that uses intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery. It may be helpful in treating primary brain tumors such as meningiomas. 

What is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomas?

Meningiomas are tumors that arise from the dura, which is the lining of the central nervous system. They are almost always benign; however a small percentage may show an increased growth rate and relapse. Symptoms generally depend on their location, size, and functions controlled by the part of the brain near the tumor. Gamma knife treatment allows meningiomas to be targeted with radiation beams.

How is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomas 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 meningiomas?

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 very same day.  

Is Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomas 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 meningiomas that do not exceed 3.5 cm in size can undergo this procedure.

Follow up

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.  The radiation effect can take effect after weeks and / or months. Sometimes, Gamma Knife treatment may not be enough; the tumor may continue to grow and cause symptoms, both immediately after treatment  and last for a longer period of time. Further treatment may be necessary, such as Gamma Knife combined with surgery or fractional radiotherapy.

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.