What Is Gamma Knife?
Gamma Knife® is revolutionary technology that enables doctors to perform brain surgery without a scalpel or incision. This non-invasive procedure, which involves a single, precisely targeted dose of radiation to the surgical site, is the powerful and proven treatment of choice for brain disorders.
Located at the Suburban Pavilion, Lancaster General Health's Gamma Knife Center is staffed by a highly skilled, multi-disciplinary treatment team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, radiation physicists and nurses, working together to design a comprehensive plan of action specifically tailored to each individual patient.
How Does Gamma Knife Work?
Despite its name, Gamma Knife is not a knife, but a type of radiosurgery that delivers targeted radiation to destroy tumors and treat other brain disorders that previously required surgeons to open the skull.
Gamma Knife requires no incisions, no anesthesia, and no lengthy recovery. Each custom-designed treatment focuses more than 200 beams of low-dose radiation exclusively on the abnormal tissue with pinpoint accuracy, sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
In benign or malignant tumors, this radiation causes the DNA and proteins in the cell to become unable to divide, causing those cells to slowly die. For blood vessel defects, the radiation causes the blood vessels to thicken and scar until flow ceases. For functional problems like painful nerve disease, the protective covering around the pain nerves is destroyed so the nerve is unable to conduct an impulse of pain.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a safe, effective alternative to open-skull surgery and has successfully been used to treat patients with benign and malignant brain tumors, vascular disorders of the brain, pain, and other neurological disorders. Conditions treated include:
Benign Brain Tumors
- Acoustic neuroma—tumor on the nerve leading to the inner ear
- Pituitary adenomas—tumor of the pituitary gland
- Meningiomas—tumor of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord
- Chordomas—tumor at the base of the skull or lower spine
- Hemangioblastomas—tumor of the nervous system
- Craniopharyngioma—tumor at the base of the skull
- Other cranial nerve schwannoma—tumors of the tissue covering nerve cells
Malignant Brain Tumors
- Metastatic tumors—spread from other parts of the body, especially from lung, breast, and kidney cancers, and melanoma
- Malignant gliomas—including astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumors, and the very aggressive glioblastomas
- Other primary malignant brain tumors—including ependymomas, craniopharyngiomas, pituitary tumors, pineal gland tumors, and primary germ cell brain tumors
Vascular Disorders of the Brain
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)—an incorrectly formed bundle of blood vessels
- Cavernous malformations—cluster of abnormal blood vessels
Pain and Other Neurological Disorders
- Trigeminal neuralgia—a painful disease of the facial nerves
- Epilepsy—a condition that involves repeated seizures
- Severe disabling tremors—from conditions like Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders