Gamma Knife Treatment for Brain Tumors

Published On 07/11/2011

The Gamma Knife works in the same manner as other types of therapeutic radiology: it distorts or destroys the DNA of tumor cells, causing them to be unable to reproduce and grow. The tumor will shrink in size over time. For blood vessel lesions such as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), the blood vessels eventually close off after treatment.

The Memphis Regional Gamma Knife Center treats:

  • Arteriovenous Malformations
  • Benign Tumors
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Pituitary Adenomas
  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Metastatic Brain Lesions
  • Partially Resected Tumors
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Selective Gliomas

A Gamma Knife procedure involves a team approach. The treatment team generally includes a radiation oncologist (a physician specializing in radiation treatment for cancer), a neurosurgeon and/or a neuroradiologist, a radiation therapist, and a registered nurse. In addition, a medical physicist and a dosimetrist work together to calculate the precise number of exposures and beam placement necessary to obtain the radiation dose that is prescribed by the radiation oncologist.

Gamma Knife treatment for brain tumors generally involves these steps.

Head Frame Placement

In order to keep the head from moving during treatment, a box-shaped frame is attached to the head. Pins designed specifically for this purpose fasten the head frame to the skull. The head frame also is a guide to focus the gamma ray beams to the exact location of the lesion being treated.

Tumor or lesion location imaging 

Once the head frame is in place, the exact location of the lesion to be treated will be determined using computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Radiation dose planning 

After the MRI or CT scan has been completed, the radiation therapy team will determine the treatment plan. The results of the imaging scan, along with other information, will be used by a medical physicist to determine the best treatment.

Radiation treatment 

After being positioned for the treatment, a type of helmet with many hundreds of holes in it is placed over the head frame. These holes help to focus the radiation beams on the target. Treatment will last from a few minutes up to a few hours, depending on the type and location of the area being treated. Generally, only one treatment session is required for a lesion.

Know your treatment options – ask your physician if Gamma Knife surgery is right for you. To find a Methodist Healthcare affiliated gamma knife surgeon in Memphis, Tennessee, please call 888.777.5959 or use our physician locator.