Gamma Knife treatment

A non-invasive radiation treatment

The Gamma Knife sends precise radiation beams to targets in the brain that respond to radiation treatment.

What is gamma knife treatment? 

The Leksell Gamma Knife isn't a knife at all. It was developed by a Swedish neurosurgeon who wanted to emphasize surgical precision in its delivery of gamma rays.

As a state-of-the-art piece of equipment it allows a consultant to direct radiation beams to specific areas within a patient's head without making an incision. It allows day case treatments with fewer complications.

Its precision and non-invasive nature means it can treat tumours in areas previously considered inoperable due to the high risk of surgical complications.

How does Gamma Knife treatment work?

In this video, Mr Ian Sabin, Consultant Neurosurgeon, explains how Gamma Knife works and what conditions it can be used to help treat at The London Gamma Knife Centre.

Advantages of gamma knife treatment


Despite its name, no incisions are made. There are none of the complications associated with surgery.


More than 85% of tumours treated do not return.


Over 2,800 scientific articles have been published on Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and more than 1 million patients have been treated worldwide, of which more than 250,000 have been treated for brain metastases.


Leksell Gamma Knife is known for delivering radiation with submillimetre accuracy, precisely to the unique contours of the tumour while minimising radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.


Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to treat metastases located in areas that cannot safely be reached by traditional surgery, such as the brainstem.

One treatment session

Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which requires treatment over multiple days or weeks, Leksell Gamma Knife delivers a high dose of radiation to one or more brain tumours during a single treatment session, in one day. If the tumour being treated is too large for single fraction radiation, it is also possible to stage the treatment in three fractions at 2 weekly intervals.

Fast and Gentle

Most patients can leave the hospital the same day or the day after treatment and resume normal activities in a day or two. Therefore, recovery time and time spent in hospital is kept to a minimum.

Minimal side effects

As radiation is delivered specifically to the tumour, there is a reduced risk of a negative impact on brain function. Some people may experience headaches just after treatment.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    An aluminium frame is fitted to your head, applied under local anaesthetic. For some patients a mask will be used rather than a frame. You’ll have an MRI scan to outline the area requiring treatment. For some blood vessel malformations (AVMs), a blood vessel X-ray is also needed (cerebral angiogram). You’ll then move into the gamma knife, where multiple radiation beams will be delivered.

    Most treatments require one session, but the procedure may require several hours when frame fitting, scanning, treatment planning, treatment delivery and recovery is taken into account. Most patients return home the same day. You may stay overnight if treatment has been for a vascular malformation.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    You'll be asked to remove all make-up, hairpieces, dentures, contact lenses and glasses. Underwired bras should not be worn and we also advise that you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that is 100 per cent cotton. A light, early breakfast should not be a problem, we start the day at 8.30am. Due to the frame, you may find it difficult to eat during the day. Like all procedures, there are potential risks or side effects involved with Gamma Knife treatment. Your consultant will explain these to you and you will be able to discuss them before the treatment. A member of the team is likely to contact you before the day of treatment to ensure you have all the information you need before attending.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    Once the frame is removed, you may notice some bleeding from the pin sites. If so, this stops with pressure for a few minutes. These small wounds may feel sensitive for a few days afterwards. You might have a headache or feel nauseous afterwards. And your consultant may prescribe steroids for you to take after the procedure to help prevent any swelling or inflammation around the area treated with radiation. You'll may be able to return to normal activities - even work - within one to three days. Your consultant will arrange a follow-up appointment to check how you're recovering and to assess how you've responded to treatment.

Meningioma treatment

My symptoms were brushed off as a hormone imbalance, but it was in fact a brain tumour, which had been growing for years
Giorgina Gray, age 37

Previous patient at The London Gamma Knife Centre

Hear how Gamma knife treated, Giorgina Gray, who suffered from headaches and neck spasms throughout her childhood and teenage years.

Our gamma knife consultants


Ian Sabin

Mr Ian Sabin

Consultant Neurosurgeon


Private Neurosurgery in London: Brain Surgery,Neurooncology,Brain Tumours,Neuro Spinal,Neurosurgery - Developmental,Epilepsy Surgery,Neurosurgery - Movement disorder,Pain management,Neurosurgery - Trauma,Neurology,Brain tumour

Works at

The Wellington Hospital

The London Gamma Knife Centre


Mr J Conibear

Dr John Conibear



Clinical oncology: Breast cancer,Lung,Small cell lung cancer,Non small cell lung,Other types of lung cancer

Works at

The Princess Grace Hospital

The Harley Street Clinic

The Lister Hospital

Sydney Street Outpatients and Diagnostic Centre

The London Gamma Knife Centre

LOC at 95 Harley Street

LOC at Chelsea

LOC at Platinum Medical Centre

LOC - Leaders in Oncology Care


Mr Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos

Consultant Neurosurgeon and Honorary Senior Lecturer


Private Neurosurgery in London: Brain Surgery,Headaches and Facial Pain,Spinal Pain Management,Endoscopy

Works at

London Bridge Hospital

The London Gamma Knife Centre

The Wellington Hospital

Our Gamma knife location

We're constantly investing in new technology at all our facilities so we can give you the best possible care. The London Gamma Knife Centre at The Wellington Hospital is just one example.

Contact us about Gamma Knife treatment

Any questions about gamma knife treatment, or would you like to make an appointment? You can call or email us and we'll be happy to help.

020 3553 2432
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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