Gamma Knife surgery is a kind of radiation therapy used to treat brain tumours and other similar abnormalities in the brain. In this surgery, specialized equipment focuses around 200 tiny beams of radiation on a tumour or any other similar target.
Although a single beam has very little effect on the brain tissue which it passes through, a high number of beams give forward a strong dose of radiation. Its precision is such that it results in minimal damage to the healthy tissues which surround the target.
A Gamma Knife surgery is usually performed when:
- A tumour or other such abnormal growth in the brain is too hard or small to reach with standard neurosurgery
- The patient is not healthy enough to undergo normal surgery
- The patient prefers a less invasive treatment for their abnormal growth
Gamma Knife Surgery is used to treat the following conditions
- Brain tumour. The management of small noncancerous and cancerous brain tumours becomes easier with Gamma Knife Surgeries. The genetic material (DNA) present in the tumour’s cells is destroyed, as a result of which the cells lose their ability to reproduce, eventually dying and shrinking the size of the tumour.
- Trigeminal neuralgia. This is a disorder of one or both of the trigeminal nerves, which are responsible for relaying sensory information between the brain and areas of the forehead, lower jaw and cheek. After treatment with a Gamma Knife, a lot of people experience pain relief within a few days.
- Acoustic neuroma. This is a noncancerous tumour which develops along the main balance and hearing nerve which leads from the inner ear to the brain. As the tumour grows, it starts putting pressure on the nerve, as a result of which a person can experience hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear and loss of balance.
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM). This is an abnormal tangling of arteries and veins in the brain where the blood flows from the arteries to veins, bypassing the smaller blood vessels in the process. It can disrupt the normal flow of blood, and may even lead to bleeding. Gamma Knife surgery destroys the AVM, causing the blood vessels to close off over time.
- Pituitary tumours. Tumours at the base of the pituitary gland can cause a variety of problems.
Things to keep in mind before the surgery
- Don’t eat or drink anything at least 12 hours before the procedure.
- Talk to your doctor whether it is okay for you to take your normal medications before the procedure.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Avoid wearing jewellery, glasses, dentures, nail polish, makeup, wigs or ear pieces etc before the procedure.
- Make sure your doctor knows beforehand that you are taking either pills or injections to control diabetes
- If you are allergic to iodine and/or shellfish, tell your doctor because dyes used in the procedure may contain their ingredients, causing your body to react during the procedure.