Your doctor will discuss the entire procedure with you. After some local anesthetic, the stereotactic frame is applied to the head. There will be no need to cut or shave your hair.
A key component in Gamma Knife surgery is the stereotactic head frame.
The frame allows the doctor to accurately define the location of the target in your brain. This lightweight frame, which is attached to your head with four pins, ensures that the radiation beams can be delivered with precision. The frame also prevents your head from moving during the imaging and treatment process.
After the head frame is in place, images of your brain are taken using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computer Tomography (CT) or Angiography.
The imaging is used 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. It provides a matrix of reference points on the images for the treatment plan to access. The coordinate box is removed after the imaging is acquired.
After the imaging, you take a break. Your images are transferred to the planning computer where your doctor and the other specialists in the team develop a treatment that is uniquely configured for your specific neurosurgical condition.
Once the plan is completed, the actual treatment can start. You will be asked to lie down on the treatment couch to which the head frame will be attached. You will be awake during the procedure and will be able to communicate with the staff through an audiovisual connection. When the treatment begins, the couch will move into the dome section of the unit. The treatment will be silent and totally painless. The team will monitor the procedure at all times. The treatment can last from just a few minutes to more than an hour depending on the size and shape of the target.
The effects of treatment are not immediate.
The radiation interrupts the growth of tumors over a period of weeks or months. In the case of arteriovenous malformations, it may take up to two years.
Your doctor will stay in contact with you to assess your progress which may include follow-up MRI or angiography images.