Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery
What is Gamma Knife®?
Gamma Knife® radiosurgery, a form of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), is a non-invasive procedure used to treat brain tumors and other brain disorders. With no incision required, Gamma Knife® helps provide safe and effective treatment—including for conditions that can’t be treated with standard surgerywith little to no pain to the patient.
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center offer Gamma Knife® treatments as part of a full spectrum of precision radiation therapy techniques. We use the newest, most modern version of this technology—the Gamma Knife® Icon™.
What Conditions does Gamma Knife® Help Treat?
Gamma Knife® is recognized as the preferred treatment for a range of brain disorders and abnormalities, including:
- Acoustic neuromas
- Brain metastases
- Pituitary tumors
- Glomus tumors/paragangliomas
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
- Trigeminal neuralgia
How does Gamma Knife® Work?
Gamma Knife® harnesses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is not a knife but rather a complex treatment system that delivers beams of gamma radiation to a targeted area within the brain.
The system allows neurosurgeons to treat lesions with precision, sparing the rest of the brain from potential risks and damage. Highly concentrated Gamma Knife® rays provide enough radiation to effectively treat the diseased area. At the same time, the low intensity of each beam ensures the safety of the surrounding healthy brain tissue and other normal structures.
What are the Benefits of Gamma Knife®?
Gamma Knife® is appropriate for many pediatric and adult patients, including those who aren’t candidates for traditional brain surgery. Some of its benefits include:
- No incision required: Surgeons can perform treatment without opening the skull, reducing the risks that come with open brain surgery, such as infection, bleeding, spinal fluid leaks, and anesthesia-related side effects. Patients are usually awake and able to communicate with their healthcare team throughout the process.
- Flexible dosage and treatment: Multiple targets can be treated at once and treatment can be completed in a single session or divided into two to five sessions if desired
- Shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery time: Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, with most patients returning to daily activities within the same day as their treatment, unlike open brain surgery, which usually requires days (or even weeks) of hospitalization.
- Safety and comfort: Gamma Knife®’s precise delivery targets the diseased area while protecting healthy brain tissue from radiation damage and patients from discomfort
- Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery generally has fewer risks than conventional brain surgery. As with any medical procedure, patients may experience side effects, but these are generally temporary and mild.