Q. Will my insurance cover this procedure?
A. Most all insurance companies will cover Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. This procedure is not experimental. It is less expensive than open surgery procedures.
Q. Do the "pins" on the head frame go through my skull?
A. The four pins used to secure the frame onto the head penetrate only a small amount into the outer part of the skull.
Q. What is the most uncomfortable part of the Gamma Knife Procedure?
A. When the local anesthesia is injected at the four pin sites, people report that they experience a burning or stinging sensation. These sensations will usually only last a few moments then will disappear as the local anesthesia starts to work.
Q. How will I know if the Gamma Knife treatment worked?
A. Depending on your reason for having a Gamma Knife treatment. Follow up appointments with your Doctors and imaging studies (MRI,CT or ANGIOGRAM) will be arranged. With your physical exam and follow up imaging studies your doctors will be able to give you an opinion on how things are doing.
Q. What will I feel during the Gamma Knife treatment?
A. Nothing. You will not see or feel the radiation during the treatment.
Q. How long will the Gamma Knife treatment last?
A. From the time you arrive at the Gamma Knife facility to the time you are discharged, you can plan to be here from four to eight hours.
Q. When can I return to my normal activities?
A. The following day. The only restrictions you will have are the same as you had prior to your treatment.
Q. What is a Gamma Knife?
A.The Gamma Knife is the "Gold Standard" in the treatment of lesions in the brain by noninvasive surgical technique called stereotactic radiosurgery. It is a safe, precise bloodless procedure.
Q. How does the Gamma Knife work?
A. The Gamma Knife uses 192 sources of highly focused gamma rays. The beams are precisely aimed so as to treat only the target (tumor,AVM,trigeminal nerve, etc) with minimal risk too adjacent brain structures.
Q. What is Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)?
A.Stereotactic Radiosurgery treats brain disorders by delivering a single high dose of radiation in a one-day session. Treatment involves the use of focused radiation beams delivered to a specific area of the brain to treat abnormalities, tumors, or other functional disorders.
Q. Why is it called surgery?
A.Radiosurgery (one-session treatment) has such a dramatic and precise effect in the target zone that the changes are considered 'surgical'. Through the use of three-dimensional computer-aided planning and the high degree of immobilization of the patient, the treatment can minimze the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy brain tissue. The precision is submillimeter. Stereotactic radiosurgery is routinely used for brain tumors and lesions. It may be the primary treatment; utilized where a tumor is inaccessible by surgical means; or as a boost or adjuct to other treatment with a recurring or malignant tumor.
Q. How does it work?
A. Stereotactic radiosurgery works the same as all other forms of radiation treatment. It does not remove the tumor or lesion, but it distorts the DNA of the tumor cells. The cells then lose their ability to reproduce and retain fluids. The tumor reduction occurs at the rate of the normal growth rate of the specific tumor cell. In lesions suchs as AVMs (a tangle of blood vessels in the brain), radiosurgery causes the blood vessels to thicken and close off. The shrinking of a tumor or closing off of a vessel occurs over a period of time. For benign tumors and vessels, this will usually be 18 months to two years. For malignant tumors and metastatic tumors, results may be seen as soon as a couple of months as these cells are very fast-growing.
Q. Are there any side effects after Gamma Knife surgery?
A.The side effects are often very mild. Headache, dizziness, seizures or nausea can be experienced immediately after the treatment, but the effects will disappear after a while.
Q. What about the radiation risk?
A. The dose of radiation is extremely focused to the target in the brain and the dose outside the target is very low.
Q. Is Gamma Knife surgery a reimbursed treatment?
Q. Who determines if radiosurgery is appropriate?
A. Medical necessity can be determined by a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist or other medical specialist after evaluating a prospective patient's medical condition. Treatment options are then determined and discussed with the patient and family, so an informed decision may be made.