North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute Introduces Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery to Treat Complex Brain and Pituitary Tumors

The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute today announced that Michael Schulder, MD, FAANS and Jonathan Knisely, MD, co-directors of the Cancer Institute’s Center for Stereotactic Radiosurgery, are now treating cancer patients with the newly installed Gamma Knife Perfexion® system.  North Shore-LIJ neurosurgeons are also using the technology at North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Advanced Medicine (CFAM) in Lake Success, NY.

The Gamma Knife was brought to CFAM as part of the recent opening of the North Shore-LIJ Department of Radiation Medicine’s new $47 million, 30,000-square-foot, comprehensive outpatient radiation therapy center.

“Gamma Knife radiosurgery involves a technique called stereotactic radiosurgery, a method of delivering high doses of radiation to a targeted area without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue,” said Dr. Schulder, neurosurgeon and director of North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Tumor Center.  “Gamma Knife is used to treat a variety of tumors and lesions in the brain that are too difficult to completely treat with an open surgical approach.  In some cases, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is performed as a secondary treatment after surgery to remove abnormal tissue that may be too dangerous to remove.”

One of the patients recently treated with the Gamma Knife at North Shore-LIJ’s CFAM radiation facility was 63-year-old George Cheng from Denville, NJ. Mr. Cheng had a history of a large pituitary tumor that was compressing his optic nerves and causing vision loss. Three years ago, he underwent a limited surgical removal of the tumor in New Jersey. When his symptoms persisted and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showed the tumor to be larger, Mr. Cheng had a second, definitive tumor resection at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. A small portion of the tumor could not be safely removed due to its location in an area containing critical nerves and blood vessels, and the plan was to treat this leftover part with the new Gamma Knife technology.

In this ambulatory, outpatient procedure, patients are given a local anesthetic.   A lightweight frame is placed on the patient’s head to stabilize its position when undergoing imaging and treatment.  Once the frame is securely placed, imaging of the brain is performed. This imaging can include MRI, computed tomography (CT) or angiography imaging.   The images provide a map of the brain, which helps physicians determine the exact amount and precise location of radiation needed to target the tumor.  Once the treatment plan is determined, the patient is placed in the Gamma Knife, fully awake and able to communicate.  During the half-hour treatment, 190 beams of radiation are used to target the tumor, destroying the abnormal cells and stopping the tumor from multiplying.  After the radiosurgery treatment is complete, patients are able to go home soon afterwards and may resume their usual activities. 

 “I am confident the experiences and knowledge of Dr. Schulder and Dr. Knisely regarding radiation treatment of brain tumor by using Gamma Knife have provided me with the best care to cure my pituitary tumor,” Mr. Cheng said.

“We are delighted to offer our patients this new cutting-edge radiation medicine service,” said Louis Potters, MD, FACR, North Shore-LIJ’s chair of radiation medicine and co-executive director of the North Shore-LIJ’s Cancer Institute. “Thanks to the close collaboration between North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Tumor Center and the radiosurgery program, our highly experienced, multidisciplinary team of experts are able to provide patients with the most comprehensive, effective radiation therapies at a single location.”

To contact North Shore-LIJ’s Department of Radiation Medicine, please call 1-855-927-6622 or visit:

Watch this video to learn more about Mr. Cheng’s story and Gamma Knife radiosurgery: Click here  

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