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Gamma Knife

When would a patient be treated with a Gamma Knife?

The Gamma Knife is used to treat patients with certain brain conditions


Tumours, vascular abnormalities and functional targets within the brain.


The London Gamma Knife Centre at St Bartholomew’s is a unique partnership between HCA Healthcare and Barts Health NHS Trust. It uses the Leksell Gamma Knife (which in fact is not a knife at all!). It’s a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that allows surgeons to treat specific areas within the skull without making a single incision. Development of the so-called Knife began in 1968 and its refinement continues. Today there are around 500 Gamma Knife units worldwide.

How does it work?

The patient is put into a head frame to keep them still whilst multiple radiation beams are delivered from sources around the head to treat targets within the brain. The level of accuracy is better than 0.5mm, reducing the dose to and leaving nearby healthy brain tissue undamaged.


Treatment is safe due to its accuracy. Also, the unwanted radiation dose to the rest of the body is up to 100 times less than that of competing technologies.

Average duration of treatment

Treatment is performed on a single day. Sometimes patients require overnight admission to the neurosurgical unit after treatment, but most are treated as day cases. Because of this, Gamma Knife treatment is cheaper than surgery.

Supporting evidence

There is a proven track record. Over 884,000 patients have been treated worldwide and thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles have been published1,2,3,4


  • Few post-treatment complications and rapid recovery. Most patients return to normal activity, even work, within one to three days
  • Better treatment outcomes for AVMs (Arteriovenous Malformations) and acoustic neuromas than with microsurgery. For other pathologies in selected cases outcomes are at least as good as, if not better than, conventional neurosurgery and radiotherapy
  • Treatment is precise and only requires a single session.

For more information

The London Gamma Knife Centre at Barts
Kenton Lucas Building,
St Bartholomew’s Hospital,
West Smithfield
London EC1A 7BE


For General Enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 3465 6006
Fax: +44 (0)20 3465 7277


  1. Régis J. et al., Prospective controlled trial of gamma knife surgery for essential trigeminal neuralgia. J Neurosurg. 2006 Jun;104(6):913-24.
  2. Hasegawa T, et al., Brain metastases treated with radiosurgery alone: an alternative to whole brain radiotherapy? Neurosurgery. 2003 Jun;52(6):1318- 26; discussion 1326.
  3. Mathieu D, et al., Stereotactic radiosurgery for vestibular schwannomas in patients with neurofibromatosis type 2: an analysis of tumor control, complications, and hearing preservation rates. Neurosurgery. 2007
  4. website
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