Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is the first hospital in the state and one of only seven medical centers in the nation to offer advanced radiosurgery for the brain with the Gamma Knife Icon. The device delivers minimally invasive radiation treatment for malignant and nonmalignant tumors, trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain syndrome) and other neurological disorders.
“This technology pinpoints the tumor with the greatest accuracy to date, and also preserves cognitive function by avoiding critical brain structures. The Gamma Knife Icon is the best combination of all we’ve come to learn about stereotactic radiosurgery for the brain,” says Peter Rossi, MD, Winship director of radiation oncology at Emory Saint Joseph’s.
Gamma Knife Treatment
Gamma Knife treatment is an alternative to open brain surgery, as it does not require a scalpel or an incision. The procedure treats brain lesions with enough radiation to control them. As a result, the lesion will disappear, shrink or stop growing. This often occurs in the most critical, difficult-to-access areas of the brain. With Gamma Knife treatment, patients avoid whole brain radiation therapy, and do not experience side effects such as memory loss.
The Gamma Knife treatment lasts from 20 minutes to two hours, and patients go home the same day. The day of the procedure, the patient will first receive an MRI. The treatment team, a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist and physicist, will then use the MRI to carefully plan and identify the area of the brain to be treated. Next, the patient is fitted with either a head frame or mask to stabilize the head during the procedure. The patient is then moved into the machine for treatment.
“There is minimal pain involved for patients,” says Shannon Kahn, MD, Winship radiation oncologist at Emory Saint Joseph’s. “After being fitted with either the head frame or mask, patients lay on a table with a comfortable mattress and often sleep during treatment. After treatment is complete, patients can go home the same day.”
Gamma Knife Patient Experience
Joseph Garrett, the first patient at Emory Saint Joseph’s to be treated with the Gamma Knife Icon, was pleased with his treatment. Garrett, who experienced vision problems and was later diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, said, “I didn’t experience any side effects at all.” He reported treatment to be painless, and immediately returned to normal activities.