Gamma Knife radiosurgery utilizes multiple beams of highly focused radiation to treat tumors and other abnormal brain conditions, according to Mayo Clinic. The procedure minimizes damage to healthy tissue and often has fewer side effects compared to traditional radiation therapy. For many patients, it is safer than traditional brain surgery.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery requires fitting the patient with a head frame attached to the scalp prior to treatment, explains MedlinePlus. This frame keeps the head still during the procedure and ensures that the radiation beams target the exact location requiring treatment. Once the frame is in place, imaging studies are completed to further visualize and define the treatment area.
The treatment itself is painless, notes MedlinePlus. The patient lies on a table that slides into the Gamma Knife machine. The head frame is attached to a helmet through which the radiation is delivered. The machine may reposition the patient's head during treatment to ensure that the radiation is delivered to the precise treatment location. Sessions may be as short as a few minutes or as long as two hours and may be repeated. Most patients require five sessions or fewer, and many need only one.
Fatigue, swelling and scalp irritation are among the most common complications of Gamma Knife radiosurgery, according to Mayo Clinic. People may also experience small areas of hair loss. These temporary side effects occur most frequently in the days following treatment.