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Gamma Knife Radiosurgery


Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a highly specialized technique used to treat tumors and lesions of the brain and surrounding structures with radiation. As used by the physicians of the Ohio Ear Institute , LLC, the Gamma Knife is used to treat certain tumors in and around the ear (specifically, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas and glomus jugulare tumors). Despite its name, Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not require an incision; the skull is never opened. The "blades" of the Gamma Knife are the beams of gamma radiation computer programmed to target the lesion at the point where the beams intersect. In a single treatment session, 201 beams of gamma radiation focus precisely on the lesion. Each individual radiation beam is too weak to harm the brain tissue it passes through. The damage occurs only at the spot where all the beams overlap. With the help of a computer, this spot can be accurately plotted to within a fraction of a millimeter.

Gamma rays entering target (side view)
Gamma rays entering target (top view)

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is not designed to remove an acoustic neuroma or glomus jugulare tumor. Instead, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is used to control the growth of these tumors. Specifically, the Gamma Knife is designed to prevent tumor growth and, at times, to decrease the size of the tumor. A small percentage of tumors treated with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery will continue to grow and may require traditional, open surgical treatment.

The physicians of the Ohio Ear Institute , LLC perform Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at the James Cancer Institute located at Ohio State Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio Gamma Knife Center uses the Leksell ® Gamma Knife 4C, which is considered by many to be the gold standard in stereotactic radiosurgical treatment for lesions in the skull.

History of the Gamma Knife

In the early 1950’s Professor Lars Leksell, a Swedish neurosurgeon, first developed the concept of radiosurgery along with stereotactic devices (used to guide the gamma rays). Professor Leksell worked with a physicist, Borje Larsson, to build the first Gamma Knife unit in Sweden in 1968. Since that time, this non-invasive technique for the treatment of brain tumors and vascular malformations has enjoyed incredible success. Worldwide, the Leksell ® Gamma Knife has been used to treat more than 330,000 malignant and benign tumors and tens of thousands of other brain conditions. Since the development of the Gamma Knife, over 2,500 peer-reviewed medical research articles support the use of Gamma Knife.

(Leksell Gamma Knife is a registered trademark of Elekta Instruments, Inc.)

© 2006 Ohio Ear Institute, LLC