How Gamma Knife Works

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Gamma Knife uses many beams of radiation from multiple angles to target one specific area in the brain. Alone, each beam is too weak to damage the healthy tissue through which the beams travel. Where the beams meet, however, the combined radiation is strong enough to treat the area.

The treatment process is the same for every patient. There are four steps: preparation, imaging, treatment planning and treatment. These four steps occur on the same day.

Stabilizing head frame

The neurosurgeon will fit you with a light-weight, stabilizing head frame in preparation for your treatment. The stability frame ensures your head remains in the same position throughout the procedure.

Personalized treatment plans

The Gamma Knife team prepares a personalized treatment plan for each patient. The team uses CT, MRI and/or angiography images that show the precise size, shape and location of the area that requires treatment. Using specially designed computer software and these images, the team prepares a plan the will be used to program the Gamma Knife equipment to automatically deliver the exact dose and number of beams of radiation needed to produce the very best possible results for that particular patient.

The Gamma Knife

The Gamma Knife looks similar to a CT scanner. There is a table (also called a couch) on which you will lie. When treatment begins, the table will move you forward so your head is positioned inside the dome. There is an intercom inside the dome so you can talk with your doctor and also listen to music.

The source of the radiation is called cobalt-60. Approximately 200 beams of this radiation are focused on the specific target from many different angles. Although there are a lot of beams of radiation, the dose of each beam is low enough so they don’t damage the tissue through which they travel on their way to the target. It is only when they meet at the target that the combined dose becomes strong enough to destroy the target tissue.

Gamma Knife has been around for many years. It has a proven track record with a history of very positive treatment results.