Smilow Cancer Hospital's Department of Radiation Oncology, along with the Department of Neurosurgery, is the sole provider of Gamma Knife services in Connecticut. Our staff has the most experience in the state treating patients with radiosurgery and the center has cared for over 5,000 patients since 1998.
Gamma Knife offers an effective, non-invasive alternative to traditional brain surgery and is exclusively designed for the treatment of malignant and benign brain tumors, vascular abnormalities of the brain, head and skull base tumors, and trigeminal neuralgia. It uses gamma radiation emitted from 192 radioactive sources to direct focused radiation to specific targets in the brain. It can destroy a brain tumor, a blood vessel abnormality such as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), or other abnormalities within or adjacent to brain tissue with extreme accuracy.
Since each individual beam of radiation is a relatively low intensity, the brain surrounding the abnormal tissue is virtually unaffected. The full dose of radiation is focused only where the 192 beams intersect. Side effects are rare and usually temporary and because the surgery is "bloodless," the risks of postoperative complications, such as infection and hemorrhage, are minimized.
Typically performed in a single outpatient treatment session without general anesthesia, this technique allows patients to receive treatments while avoiding incision, scarring and long hospital stays while minimizing surgical complications. Patients experience minimal pain and, in most cases, can resume their pre-treatment activities including ongoing systemic therapy the day after treatment. Gamma Knife is an excellent option for patients who are not good candidates for open surgery.
Smilow Cancer Hospital is pleased to offer Elekta's Gamma Knife Icon, a stereotactic radiosurgery system that provides the precision and accuracy for which Gamma Knife has long been known while giving the flexibility to deliver treatment in single or multiple sessions. With the addition of Icon, there is a flexible mix of radiation delivery systems that optimizes treatment to all patients, regardless of whether it is a complex case or not.
Gamma Knife offers excellent results for many conditions:
- Metastatic brain tumors - Gamma Knife is as effective as surgery in controlling metastatic lesions. Control rates, on average, are 90 percent at one-year follow-up and 80 percent at two-year follow-up. However, Gamma Knife has the added benefit of being able to treat surgically inaccessible lesions and multiple lesions in one sitting. Unlike whole brain radiation therapy, it can also be used multiple times, if necessary, and it is compatible with ongoing chemotherapy.
- Benign brain tumors such as meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas and craniopharyngiomas - Compared to surgery, which can result in up to 20 to 40 percent recurrence rate at 10-year follow-up, radiosurgery controls tumors in more than 90 percent of cases at 10-year follow-up.
- Gamma Knife physicians collaborate with specialists in many diseases, including melanoma; lung cancer; breast cancer; gastrointestinal cancers such as colon cancer and esophageal cancer; genito-urinary cancers such as renal cell and prostate cancer; neurology and neurosurgery, hematology and pediatric surgery, to prepare the most effective treatment plans for our patients.