What is Gamma Knife Icon?
Gamma Knife Icon is the most precise radiosurgery treatment that exists today. For the first time, it is possible to perform Gamma Knife treatment in one day without requiring a stereotactic head frame. Other Gamma Knife platforms require patients to have a head frame placed at the time of treatment—involving the placement of pins against the scalp to secure the frame in place. Gamma Knife Icon’s completely frameless setup is possible because of advancements the Icon has made in real-time motion management and imaging techniques. The benefit of this is not only patient comfort by avoiding the placement of the frame, but also the ability to treat larger tumors and those near sensitive areas, such as the optic nerves.
Despite its name, Gamma Knife Icon radiosurgery is a noninvasive, nonsurgical technique. There are no surgical incisions. The device uses beams of highly focused gamma rays to treat small to medium size lesions, usually in the brain.
Gamma Knife Icon can be used for both adults and children who have small to medium-sized brain tumors; blood vessel abnormalities such as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs); and such neurological conditions as trigeminal neuralgia, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.
Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not cause injury to any tissues except those specifically targeted at the time of treatment, it is very effective in treating abnormalities in parts of the brain that are too difficult to completely treat with an open surgical approach.
Why it's done
Gamma Knife Icon is used to treat malignant and benign tumors of the brain. These include:
- Movement disorders
- Acoustic neuromas (vestibular schwannomas)
- Arteriovenous malformations
- Brain metastasis
- Cavernous malformations
- Glial tumors
- Hypothalamic hamartomas
- Pituitary tumors
- Trigeminal neuralgia
At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, Gamma Knife Icon is one of many advanced radiation therapies used to treat malignant and benign tumors of the brain, while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. By using Gamma Knife Icon, the physicians at Northwell Health can deliver high doses of radiation to a targeted area. We are currently the only health system on Long Island offering this treatment.
Gamma Knife Icon treatment is provided in a caring and professional environment by staff who are dedicated to making each patient visit as informative and stress-free as possible. This begins with an in-depth conversation describing the treatment, including what to expect, possible side effects and goals. The personalized treatment also includes careful consideration of current health, family history, age and patient preferences.
All radiation therapies, including Gamma Knife Icon, are administered using evidence-based medicine. A multidisciplinary team of doctors including radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, medical oncologists and radiology oncologists, collaborates on treatment plans to ensure that every aspect of treatment is precisely coordinated for the best possible outcome. This includes ongoing peer review and chart rounds.
Because convenience is a priority, we offer multiple locations for radiation therapy to enable you to obtain treatment near where you live or work.
Gamma Knife Icon radiosurgery is offered at the Center for Advanced Medicine, part of Northwell Health Cancer Institute.
Northwell’s Northern Westchester Hospital also offers exceptional cancer treatment.
Research at Northwell
Advances in radiation oncology are continuously happening at Northwell Cancer Institute. With innovations in radiation therapy technology and techniques, we continue to improve outcomes. Through our alliance with leading research organization Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, we participate in investigator-initiated trials to offer the most leading-edge therapies to patients.
Northwell Health Cancer Institute is recognized worldwide for its commitment to providing pioneering treatment for cancer patients. The ongoing focus on improving cancer treatments has contributed to significant advancements that are improving the quality of many lives and increasing the number of cancer survivors.
What to expect
Prior to the Gamma Knife procedure, you will be asked to provide a complete medical history and may have to undergo a complete physical examination to ensure you are in good health. Blood tests and other diagnostic tests may be performed. It is important that you notify your healthcare provider about any sensitivities or allergies to medication, latex, tape, contrast dyes, iodine or anesthetic agents.
Your attending neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist who will be treating you with the Gamma Knife will review all treatment options and discuss the risks specific to your treatment.
A Gamma Knife procedure typically goes as follows:
- In some cases, a lightweight frame is attached to your head.
- Local anesthesia is used before the frame is secured in place.
- You will have an MRI imaging study, and possibly a CT scan.
- Data from the imaging study is transferred into the treatment planning computer.
- The treatment team uses advanced software to determine the treatment plan.
- When the individual treatment plan is completed, you will be placed on the Gamma Knife couch and precisely positioned.
- You are then moved automatically, head first into the machine and treatment begins.
- Actual treatment time varies based on the condition being treated and its location. However, the procedure typically lasts from 15 minutes to an hour or more, during which time you will feel nothing.
- 192 beams of radiation are aimed at the target during the procedure. You won’t feel anything while this happens.
- Following treatment, you are automatically moved out of the machine, and the head frame (if used) is removed.
Because Gamma Knife treatment is an outpatient procedure, you will be observed for a period of time and then discharged home. You will not likely have a great amount of pain from the procedure. Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Motrin can alleviate any discomfort.
Possible side effects
With Gamma Knife, some patients have no side effects at all. However, when side effects do occur, they are typically related to the specific areas that are being treated. Side effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery include:
- Mild skin reactions
- Hair loss
- Upset stomach
Most side effects usually go away after treatment ends, but, you may feel very tired for four to six weeks after your last treatment. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat any potential side effects.
Cancer is challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, a wide range of support groups are available to help you cope with diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment issues.