Swedish neurosurgeon Dr. Lars Leksell and colleague Börje Larsson, a radiation biologist, developed the first Gamma Knife model in 1967 in their quest for a noninvasive modality to treat functional brain disorders. They combined radiation beams with stereotactic (guiding) devices capable of pinpointing targets within the brain. Leksell termed the surgical technique “stereotactic radiosurgery” (SRS). The first Gamma Knife was installed in the United States in 1987. Hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide have been treated using the Gamma Knife.
How it Works
The Gamma Knife allows neurosurgeons to operate on abnormal areas of the brain without making an incision. This stereotactic radiosurgery system is designed to precisely target and destroy abnormal tissue within the skull using highly focused gamma radiation. Patients experience minimal pain, and in most cases, leave the hospital the same day of the procedure and resume regular activities the day after treatment.
Precision and Safety
This stereotactic radiosurgery system aims highly focused gamma radiation using 191 convergent beams at targets ranging from several millimeters to more than 3 centimeters in diameter. The beams are so precisely focused that maximum dosage reaches the target and surrounding brain and other critical nerve and blood vessel structures are spared.
To determine the location of the target in the brain, an MRI, CT scan, angiogram, or a combination of these imaging procedures are performed. The Gamma Knife computer software analyzes the many images, and an expert treatment team, comprised of a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and medical physicist, custom design the Gamma Knife treatment plan, including the radiation dose and exact target.
Cutting Edge Brain Surgery Without a Knife
For information on what to expect before, during, and after the procedure, please click here to download the Illinois Gamma Knife Center Information for Patients brochure.