Gamma Knife treatment

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A non-invasive radiation treatment

The Gamma Knife sends thin radiation beams to direct spots in the brain that need radiation treatment.

About

The Leksell Gamma Knife isn't a knife at all. It's a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that allows a consultant to direct radiation beams to specific areas within the skull without making an incision. Its precision and non-invasiveness means it can treat tumours previously considered inoperable.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Lying down, your head is put into a frame to help keep it still during the procedure. You'll have a local anaesthetic to block any pain from the areas where the head frame is attached (usually with pins), so you'll be awake during the procedure.


    You'll have an MRI or CT scan to find the exact spot that needs to be treated. Then you'll be moved into the gamma knife unit where multiple narrow radiation beams will be delivered from sources around your head to treat targets in your brain.


    Because treatment is so precise you'll only need one session. The entire procedure usually takes up to two hours but you might have to stay in hospital overnight.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    You'll be asked to remove all make-up (including nail varnish), hairpieces, dentures, contact lenses and glasses.

    You might have to avoid eating or drinking during the day that you're having your procedure. If you've been asked not to eat or drink, you might have have a drip, to make sure you stay hydrated.

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks or side effects involved with Gamma Knife treatment. Your consultant will explain these to you and you can discuss these thoroughly before the treatment. It's important to cover off any questions you have before the procedure.

  • Afterwards icon plus

    Once the head frame is off, you might notice some bleeding in the areas where it was attached. Those areas 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 that was treated with radiation.


    You'll probably be back 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 the treatment.

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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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