What to Expect

What to Expect

Before Your Treatment
Before treatment, your doctor will inform you about the entire procedure. Gamma Knife surgery does not require cutting or shaving of your hair. The next step is the application of the head frame. The frame allows the doctor to accurately pinpoint the target to be treated in your brain. This lightweight frame, which is attached to your head with four pins, ensures that the radiation beams can be directed with precision to the target. The frame also prevents your head from moving during the imaging and treatment procedures. Local anesthetic is applied where the pins are to be attached.

Treatment Planning
After the head frame is in place, it is time for imaging to be done, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or angiography. Imaging is required to determine the exact size, shape and position of the target in the brain. During imaging, a coordinate box is placed on the head frame to provide reference points on the images for the treatment plan. After imaging, the coordinate box is removed.

Once your images have been taken, you can rest while your physician develops a very precise and accurate three-dimensional treatment plan using the Gamma Knife’s proprietary software. The doctor, very often together with other specialists in the team, develops the plan in a specially designed computer and calculates how the treatment should be performed. Each treatment plan is unique; every patient’s plan is individually designed to address their specific medical condition. The doctor maintains ultimate control over treatment planning, and has the ability to accept or alter the computer-generated plan.

Your Gamma Knife Perfexion Treatment
Once your treatment plan is complete, you'll lie down on the treatment table and your head frame will be attached to the machine. You'll be awake during the procedure and able to communicate with our team through a video and audio connection.  When Gamma Knife® Surgery begins, the treatment table, which is much like the one you were on for your MRI or CT scan, will move into the dome section of the unit. The team will be monitoring your procedure at all times. There may be several treatments lasting anywhere from two to forty-five minutes during your Gamma Knife session.

After Treatment
When your treatment is complete, the head frame will be removed. Some patients experience a mild headache or minor swelling where the head frame was attached, but most report no problems. Your doctor will advise you whether or not he wants you to stay overnight for observation or if you can go home immediately. Either way, you should be able to return to your normal routines in a day or so.

The effects of your treatment will occur over time. Radiation treatments are designed to stop the growth of tumors or dysfunctional tissue, which means that the effect will be seen over a period of weeks or months.

The Follow-up
Your follow-up care will be coordinated with the doctor who referred you and the doctors involved in your treatment. If you are discharged the day your procedure was performed, you should have a family member drive you home and stay with you for that night.

You may resume your normal diet and activities as tolerated. Medications prescribed by your doctor before the Gamma Knife treatment should be resumed, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

You may gently shampoo your hair the day after treatment; however, avoid scrubbing the pin sites until they have healed for a week or so. Occasionally, patients note some persistent numbness or tingling of the scalp. The feeling is temporary and is usually gone within a few weeks.

Please call your physician or your Gamma Knife nurse if you have any questions about your treatment.

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