Gamma Knife is not really a knife. It is a treatment technique that uses state-of-the-art technology instead of a scalpel, directing gamma rays with great precision to the target area inside the skull in a single session. Gamma rays have a safe and powerful effect on the diseased area without the problems associated with surgery, such as bleeding, infection and recovery in intensive care. Gamma Knife makes it possible to direct very precise beams of gamma rays to small areas within the skull due to advanced imaging and planning techniques. 192 radioactive beams from a gamma ray source are focused on the diseased area, thus ensuring that the healthy brain tissue around the targeted area receives a negligible dose of radiation while the diseased tissue is exposed to a high dose of radiation. The entire procedure is completed in a couple of hours and the patient can return home on the same day.
Gamma Knife is a treatment technique especially recommended for patients at a high risk for adverse effects associated with surgery either because of their age or because they have these types of problems. GammaKnife is a significant advantage with patients for whom general anesthesia is risky.
They may feel some mild pain in their head while the stereotactic frame is being fitted. Local anesthetics are used to minimize this discomfort. The feeling of pressure associated with the fitting of the frame subsides within a couple of minutes. Patients do not feel any pain during treatment. Patients cannot see or feel the gamma rays.
Yes, they are awake, but patients who experience anxiety can take a sedative. The doctor can speak with patients during the treatment through speakers and a microphone and is constantly watching them via a monitor.
Gamma Knife is a brain surgery technique that does not require the skull to be opened and targets diseased tissue very precisely with gamma rays. GammaKnife treatment prevents the complications that can occur in surgical procedures such as bleeding and infection and does not require hospital admission, so it avoids the associated problems. The probability of a reaction developing in the surrounding healthy tissue due to the radioactive energy used is 1-2% and most of these are temporary.
The results of GammaKnife radiosurgery can be seen anywhere from a few months to a few years later. The time needed for it to have an effect differs with each disease. In patient monitoring, examinations are performed with tests such as MRI and angiography as frequently as recommended by the doctor.
The goal in GammaKnife radiosurgery is controlling tumor growth, which means that the tumor does not increase in size or that the tumor shrinks over time.
- ARTERIOVENOUS MALFORMATIONS (Abnormal Tangle of Blood Vessels)
Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) are abnormal congenital tangles of blood vessels in the brain. AVM may manifest as brain hemorrhages or epileptic seizures. Any brain hemorrhage that may develop can lead to serious health problems. Furthermore, seizures have a negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. AVMs are treated with techniques such as surgical removal, obstructing them with a technique known as embolization or obliterating them with radiosurgery. Sometimes these techniques can be used to complement each other. Ninety-two percent of AVMs treated with GammaKnife close up within 3 years.
Angiographic images of a patient with AVM prior to treatment and 3 years after treatment
Brain metastasis occurs when a cancer that developed in another part of the body moves to the brain through the circulatory system. An increasing number of patients are developing brain metastasis due to the success achieved in primary cancer treatment methods and the fact that patients are living longer. There is brain metastasis in approximately 20-40% of cancer patients. Surgical, radiotherapy and radiosurgery techniques are used to treat these. Today, GammaKnife radiosurgery is used extensively to treat metastases with a very high success rate. It can be employed as needed with metastatic patients. The general systemic status of most cancer patients is impaired so surgical treatment can create problems. Therefore, GammaKnife provides a significant advantage because it makes treatment of metastasis possible in a single session. GammaKnife can halt the growth of these tumors or shrink them with a success rate of 90 percent. In recent years, metastatic patients have become the largest patient group in most GammaKnife centers.
MRI images of a patient with liver cancer metastasized to the brain prior to treatment and four months after treatment.
VESTIBULAR SCHWANNOMA (Tumor on Hearing – Balance Nerve)
The tumor known as vestibular schwannoma causes dysfunction in the hearing-balance nerve. Symptoms include ringing ears, advanced hearing loss and imbalance. One of the techniques used to treat it is a surgical procedure. However, problems such as increased hearing loss and facial paralysis can occur following surgery. Another technique is the GammaKnife treatment, which results in these problems occurring much less frequently than they do with surgery. With GammaKnife treatment the probability of stopping tumor growth and achieving long-term shrinkage is 98%.
MRI images of a patient with vestibular schwannoma prior to treatment and at 1 and 3 years after treatment
HYPOPHYSEAL ADENOMA (Tumor of the Pituitary Gland)
Hypophyseal adenomas are the most frequently observed tumors in the pituitary gland, which is the hormonal center of the body. These tumors are indicated by hormonal imbalances or loss of vision.
Medication, surgical procedures and GammaKnife are all used for treatment.
GammaKnife radiosurgery can be performed in addition to drugs and surgical treatment or on its own. The growth of pituitary tumors can be controlled in 95-98% of cases with GammaKnife radiosurgery.
MR images of a patient with hypophyseal adenoma prior to treatment and 3 years after treatment
1- Choose a team that has treated a large number of patients.
A team that has used Gamma Knife
on a large number of patients for a variety of diseases will understand what you need and be able to safely perform the necessary treatment protocol. The Acıbadem GammaKnife team possesses significant scientific know-how not just in Turkey but around the world because it has treated almost 6000 patients to date.
2- Choose a team that has conducted research and published scientific articles.
You will benefit from choosing a team that conducts research and has published scientific articles regarding GammaKnife. Patients will benefit tremendously from being treated by a group that conducts research, publishes articles, stays abreast of developments in the field and has an excellent command of recent developments.
The Acibadem Gamma Knife team follows scientific developments closely through books and congress presentations and the numerous scientific articles published in the field both in Turkey and abroad. Training is provided in this field for physicians from Turkey and abroad through courses and meetings.
3- Choose a center that works with advanced technology and an excellent selection of equipment.
An exemplary GammaKnife center uses the latest computer programs and equipment. Leading GammaKnife centers use MRI devices with a high magnetic field strength and digital angiography. All of these ensure that patients are treated with the utmost safety and efficacy.
Acıbadem GammaKnife Center possesses “Perfexion”, the most advanced model in Turkey. 3-Tesla MR and digital angiography is used for treatment planning in our center.