It’s normal to have questions about the Gamma Knife procedure for brain conditions, tumors and other treatable conditions.
What is Gamma Knife?
Gamma Knife is considered the “gold standard of care” for noninvasive treatment of many brain tumors (some previously considered inoperable), vascular malformations and neurological disorders. The Leksell Gamma Knife Icon model focuses up to 192 tiny beams of radiation on one computer-mapped target in the brain and is accurate within half the width of a human hair.
What are the conditions treated with Gamma Knife?
Gamma Knife is used to treat brain disorders including:
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
- Essential tremor or tremor caused by Parkinson’s disease
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Benign and malignant (cancerous) brain tumors including:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Metastases (cancers that have spread to the brain)
- Pituitary adenomas
Highly proven Gamma Knife brain radiosurgery has helped more than a million patients around the world. Gamma Knife:
- Offers hope for those who wish to avoid risks or are not good surgical candidates for traditional open-skull surgery
- Can be used in place of or in addition to open-skull brain surgery or whole brain radiation, depending on the diagnosis
Are there side effects to the Gamma Knife procedure?
Our patients rarely report any side effects from Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Here are a few minor side effects that may occur:
- You may experience some swelling above your eyes within 48 hours of the procedure. This is due to the local anesthetic used to numb your forehead for pin placement
- Some patients experience tingling or temporary scalp numbness above the pin sites
- A tension-like headache is typical for two to four days after treatment
- Some patients report no side effects at all
Will my insurance cover Gamma Knife Treatment?
Gamma Knife procedures are covered by most medical insurance plans. Prior authorization is required and limited to specific diagnostic reasons. South Sound Gamma Knife at St. Joseph will preauthorize the procedure with your patient’s insurance carrier.
How much time will I need to take off from work to recover?
Gamma Knife requires no incisions or invasive procedures and therefore has a very quick recovery time. You may return to work or school within 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, depending on how you are feeling.
Are there any dietary restrictions with Gamma Knife treatment?
We ask that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your treatment day. You can take your prescribed medications with just enough water to swallow them. Following treatment, you can resume your regular diet immediately, as desired.
I admit it — I have a fear of Gamma Knife. What are the risks?
It’s normal to fear any procedure that affects the highly sensitive brain, but Gamma Knife is truly one of the safest procedures available to treat conditions of the brain. Be sure to discuss with your doctor the potential side effects specific to your case. Most of our patients experience no side effects, and if they do, they are minor and go away within a few days.
For additional information on Gamma Knife and the conditions it treats, visit these helpful online resources. If you have any questions about treatment at South Sound Gamma Knife, call 866.254.3353.
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health
Elekta, manufacturer of the Icon® Gamma Knife answers frequently asked questions about radiosurgery