The Gamma Knife surgery is a non-invasive, advanced radiation therapy focused on small to medium-sized tumours located in the brain. Unlike as suggested in name the procedure does not include surgical incision but involves radiation therapy with single, many beams of high-intensity gamma radiation, targeted very precisely to destroy a tumour.
Basically, the Gamma Knife treatment includes six steps:
Applying the frame
Gamma Knife treatment
Since this is a non-invasive procedure, surgical risks are eliminated and can be performed in a day or two without hampering much of the daily activity. If you have been scheduled for a gamma surgery, you may feel apprehensive. You need not feel anxious as the preparation is quite simple and involve only a few steps.
Preparation prior to the day of the therapy
The preparation starts, a day prior the scheduled gamma knife surgery. Depending on your medical findings, doctors may recommend certain medications which should be taken positively. It is advised to fast for eight hours before the treatment. So, preferably don’t eat anything after midnight. In case you witness any abnormal pain, immediately inform the doctor.
Wash your hair using shampoo and refrain from using any product other than shampoo. It is good to take adequate sleep, so try sleeping early.
Make sure you have a family member or a friend who can accompany you to the hospital, stay at the hospital during the entire treatment.
Preparation on the day of treatment
The procedure usually takes a day and you will be discharged the next day. It is good to wear comfortable and relaxing clothes. Remove all your accessories, contact lenses, hairpieces, dentures and avoid any makeup products. Make sure you reach the hospital within time. Before you change into the hospital gown it is best to empty your bladder.
Applying the Frame
The head is cleaned at the position where the stereotactic frame is placed. The local anaesthetics are administered at the pinpoints of the frame to achieve numbness in these areas, following which the head frame is placed. A slight discomfort may be felt at the time of administration of anaesthesia and frame insertion but this will last only for a short duration.
Subsequently, after frame attachment, imaging studies are performed to trace the exact location of a tumour. The imaging tools may include computed tomography (CT) scan, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, or a cerebral angiogram. The images obtained from these are used by the team to plan the specialized treatment.
On completion of the imaging, you are allowed to relax and take rest for some time; meanwhile, the team works on the treatment plan.
Gamma Knife Treatment
When the team is ready with the treatment plan, you will be assisted to the gamma knife area. The nurse will instruct you to lie down on the bed. In most of the patients, a blood pressure cuff, oxygen monitor and EKG monitor is connected to monitor vital signs. A special helmet, known as collimator helmet, is fitted over the stereotactic frame. After making all the necessary arraignments for the initiation of the treatment, the team will leave the room. You will also be observed with a video monitor.
Upon completion of the therapy session, the stereotactic frame is removed and a sterile dressing is applied at the pin insertion points. You may have a headache or nausea after the treatment. You can communicate with the nurse and get medicines. Most of the patients will be discharged the next day. You can return to your normal activities, eat and drink as per your mood and choice.