Click any question to view its answer. To narrow the list of Frequently Asked Questions, you may click the topics on the right.
What is Gamma Knife surgery?
Gamma Knife® surgery is a noninvasive technique for treating brain tumors and other brain abnormalities. It targets the affected area with a radiation which explains why it is sometimes called "radiosurgery." Since this invisible radiation is the "scapel," there is no actual cutting into the body and as a result many of the risks of traditional surgery are avoided.
What other expenses should I plan for?
Because many of our patients travel from out of town, they may need to consider additional costs for travel, overnight lodging and meals. MidMichigan offers special pricing on lodging and local shuttle transportation as part of our Hospitality Service.
Would Gamma Knife surgery be an option for me?
We would be happy to review your case. Contact our Gamma Knife Nurse Coordinator for more information or to arrange for a no-obligation review of your records and films.
What conditions does the Gamma Knife treat?
The Gamma Knife commonly treats many types of benign and malignant tumors under 4 cm in size, as well as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), acoustic neuromas, and trigeminal neuralgia. A few centers with access to advanced brain mapping technology are beginning to use the Gamma Knife to treat functional disorders such as Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
How does the Gamma Knife work?
The Gamma Knife machine uses computerized data to target 201 beams of gamma radiation directly at the tumor or other affected area. The beams converge at the target area to produce a high dose of radiation.
For tumors, the high dose of radiation causes the DNA in the targeted cells to die and shrink over time. For AVMs, the radiation causes the abnormal blood vessels to thicken and scar to stop blood flow. For trigeminal neuralgia, the protective covering around the pain nerves is destroyed, stopping their ability to conduct pain impulses.
Are Gamma Knife procedures safe?
Yes. Over 200,000 patients worldwide have been treated with the Gamma Knife, with few side effects.
How quickly do you see results?
Although the Gamma Knife procedure itself takes only hours, the results may not be seen for days or months, depending on the type of medical condition being treated.
Is the Gamma Knife painful?
Patients may feel a slight pressure when the Gamma Knife frame is attached to the head. Local anesthetic or intravenous medication will be used to help relax you and avoid discomfort. The Gamma Knife procedure itself is completely painless.
Why is it called a Gamma Knife?
The term refers to the "gamma" radiation emitted by the machine and the scalpel-like accuracy with which it treats affected areas of the brain.
How is radiosurgery different from radiotherapy?
Unlike radiotherapy, which provides fractions of radiation given daily over a period of several weeks, radiosurgery targets the affected area with a precisely targeted radiation given in a single dose.
Is Gamma Knife surgery covered by insurance?
Because of the high success rate and low cost of Gamma Knife surgery (compared to open brain surgery), most insurance companies, as well as Medicare, cover the procedure. Our Gamma Knife Nurse Coordinator is happy to discuss our costs with you or your insurance company.
Gamma Knife® is a registered trademark of Elekta Group.