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Gamma Knife Bloodless Brain Surgery


(732) 321-7010

Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery is an advanced technology which allows brain surgery to be performed with a brief hospital stay, reduced pain, shorter recovery period and no incisions.

The Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center is the first medical facility in the state to provide this valuable treatment option for patients suffering from certain brain tumors, vascular malformations and trigeminal neuralgia. This state-of-the-art technology is designed to stop and/or reduce the growth of abnormal tissue by using precisely focused radiation beams. This means that many brain abnormalities once treated only through open brain surgery can now be treated without an incision.

The specialized team at the Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center consists of a neuro-oncologist, neurosurgeon, neuro-oncology nurse, radiation oncologist, and physicist. The team works together to evaluate all cases to guarantee individualized treatment. All members of the team are experts in their field, highly experienced with Gamma Knife treatment, and have been widely published.

Technology and History

The Gamma Knife uses radioactive cobalt-60 as its source of gamma rays. During the Gamma Knife procedure, the patient lies on a treatment couch and the physician positions the patient's head within a metal helmet called a collimator helmet. This helmet contains 201 small openings through which the radioactive sources are focused simultaneously at their small target within the brain. The size of the target can be varied depending on the size of the openings in the helmet. By using stereotactic techniques and computer technology, a high radiation dose can be delivered to a target of almost any shape. Each of the individual beams provides a relatively small, harmless dose of radiation. Only at the point where the beams converge is the radiation at its most powerful and tissue destroyed. Thus, the Gamma Knife prevents injury to surrounding healthy tissue.

Gamma Knife technology was first used by Dr. Lars Leksell in Stockholm, Sweden in 1968. Today, there are more than 11,000 medical publications documenting the success of Gamma Knife radiosurgery. More than 600,000 individuals have benefited by such treatments, and there are over 193 Gamma Knife centers around the world. The NJ Neuroscience Institute is one of 86 of the largest and most prestigious institutes in the country to offer this advanced treatment option.

Treatment Options

The Gamma Knife is effective on a multitude of vascular malformations, tumors and functional disorders, including:

Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM or blood vessel abnormality in the brain):  First used on AVMs in 1971, gamma rays have been proven to dissipate 80 to 90 percent of the AVM within two years. While the Gamma Knife procedure is one treatment option, traditional craniotomy can require one to five operations.

Acoustic Neuromas (Vestibular Schwannomas or balance/hearing nerve tumors):  Growth control or shrinkage is achieved in at least 95 percent of the tumors with no risk of mortality, intracranial bleeding or infection.

Meningiomas (brain tumors):  Considered an optional treatment modality in conjunction with conventional surgery, Gamma Knife treatment is the primary treatment when conventional surgery is not possible. It eliminates the need for re-operation in 90 percent of patients with low complication rates, even in cases close to sensitive structures such as the brain stem and cranial nerves.

Trigeminal Neuralgia (facial pain):  More than 1,800 patients are treated each year by Gamma Knife for facial pain and see the best results when it is used as the first treatment modality. It provides pain relieve in 88 percent of patients within the first three months of the procedure.

Pituitary Tumors:  The Gamma Knife is an adjuvant treatment for pituitary tumors in combination with conventional surgery if the tumor is invasive and cannot be completely removed. It is also an excellent treatment option for pituitary tumors in individuals who cannot tolerate conventional surgery.

Metastasic Tumors (that have spread from various other parts of the body):  Gamma Knife surgery on metastasic tumors is primarily used to increase a patient’s quality of life and results in lower morbidity and longer survival than other forms of radiosurgery. Ninety five to ninety eight percent of patients respond positively to the procedure.

The procedure is also used on other forms of malignant tumors, including: glial tumors, glomus tumors, chondrosarcoma, ocular tumors, melanoma, NPC, carcinoma and hemangiopericytoma.

Benefits of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

  • Noninvasive. No incision is made, the patient's head is not shaved and the treatment is virtually painless.
  • Shorter hospitalization. It requires only one overnight hospitalization, after which the patient can resume normal, pre-surgery activities.
  • Reduced risks. The risks of surgical complications such as infections, hemorrhage and adverse reactions to general anesthesia are eliminated.
  • Improved outcomes and enhanced quality of life. There is no general anesthesia, prolonged hospitalization, or prolonged recovery periods. There is also no scarring.
  • Economical. The relatively low cost of the Gamma Knife procedure eliminates costs related to convalescence, rehabilitation and extended job absence.

For a consultation with the Gamma Knife team, call (732) 321-7010.