Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at NWH
What is Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?
A Non-Invasive Alternative
The Gamma Knife is considered the gold standard of treatment for a broad spectrum of brain injuries and diseases. The Gamma Knife is not a knife at all—but a highly sophisticated, non-invasive device, with minimal side effects, that focuses high-energy gamma radiation on the affected area inside the brain.
Northern Westchester Hospital is proud to be the only facility between New York City and Syracuse with the expertise and technology to offer the Gamma Knife, an effective, non-invasive alternative or supplemental treatment to surgery or other forms of radiation therapy.
Advantages of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
- It is a single, non-invasive treatment that requires no incision
- It is performed under local anesthesia with mild sedation
- It eliminates risks of infection and adverse reactions to general anesthesia
- It is typically an outpatient procedure with fewer complications than traditional surgery
- It allows patients to leave the hospital within 24 hours, often without an overnight stay
- It only affects targeted tissue, sparing the surrounding brain
- It can be applied to a variety of brain diseases including tumors, blood vessel malformations, and some functional disorders
- It allows the patient and surgeon to communicate freely during the procedure, through both a video camera and an intercom
- It is approved by the FDA
- It can be used to treat inoperable diseases
- It can treat single and multiple brain metastases from a variety of primary cancers such as lung, breast, colon, kidney, prostate bladder and melanoma
- It allows patients to return to pretreatment activities within days, requiring little or no rehabilitative services
- It is reimbursed by most insurance payors, including Medicare
- More than 3,000 peer-review clinical articles support its use
- More than 700,000 people have undergone treatment worldwide, with an average of over 60,000 people a year.
Gamma Knife Treatment Results
Over 700,000 patients in over 200 different facilities worldwide have been treated with the Gamma Knife. Following are treatment results for specific conditions:
- Metastatic tumors: Achieves a local control rate that generally exceeds 85% in any brain location. Essentially comparable to open surgery, gamma knife radiosurgery is performed without anesthesia, the risk of infection, bleeding or complications – and without a lengthy hospital stay and convalescence.
- Meningiomas: 93-98% of patients experience long-term tumor control; some decrease in size, while others simply exhibit no further growth. For tumors less than 3.5 cm, clinical data also supports that the control rate after Gamma Knife Perfexion is equivalent to that of after surgical resection of Simpson Grade 1 tumors, and control rates superior to Simpson grade 2 and 3-4 resections.
- Acoustic neuromas (vestibular schwannomas): Clinical research reports long-term tumor control rates (5-15 years) in 93-100% for patients with tumors less than 3cm. Pre-treatment hearing can generally be preserved in 60-90% of cases. For intracanalicular tumors, hearing preservation can range from 73-100%. Clinical data also supports that greater than 95% of patients have preserved facial nerve and trigeminal nerve function. Level two evidence supports that 91% of Gamma Knife patients have no functional deterioration after treatment versus 61% of microsurgery patients.
- Pituitary adenomas: Clinical research supports tumor control rates for both secretory and non-secretory tumors to be between 90-100%. For secretory tumors, research reports approximately 50-60% of cases will achieve endocrine control in 12-60 months. Gamma Knife surgery is especially beneficial for recurrent or residual disease following surgery.
- Vascular malformations: Complete obliteration of AVMs takes place in roughly 70-90% of patients during a period of 6 months to 6 years. Post treatment, the patient’s risk of rupture progressively declines until it fails to be visible on follow up imaging.
- Trigeminal neuralgia: Initial pain relief reported ranges from 78-94%. Long-term pain relief varies from 32-81% across various treatment centers. Level 2 clinical research shows Gamma Knife to have the lowest rate of morbidity or sensory/nerve dysfunction when compared to other treatment techniques. Research also supports that repeat treatment for patients who experience a relapse of pain (after initial treatment) can offer an equivalent rate of pain control. The treatment goal is reduction of or freedom from medications.