Brain surgery without a knife, gamma rays guided by robotic controls and 3D targeting that’s as precise as a pinpoint. This may sound like science fiction, but it’s the new reality at Cooper University Hospital’s Neurological Institute, where the Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™ is currently being installed.Cooper will be one of the first hospitals in the U.S. — and the only one in New Jersey and the Delaware Valley — to offer patients the most advanced system ever for non-invasive treatment for brain disorders with the new Gamma Knife. The groundbreaking system brings together the best of both worlds – innovations that make treatment faster and more accurate along with the experience gained from treating almost a half million patients worldwide.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is most commonly used for brain tumors in hard to reach areas of the brain, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), trigeminal neuralgia, acoustic neuroma and pituitary tumors.
“Gamma Knife surgery is known as the gold standard in stereotactic radiosurgery, and with good reason,” said H. Warren Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Neurosurgery and Director of the Cooper Neurological Institute. “With the technological advances that have been integrated into Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™, we will be able to offer patients new options in treating brain disorders and brain tumors.”
“The ability to shape the highly focused radiation dose advances Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™ to the ‘next level’ by combining radiation oncology and neurosurgical expertise for the treatment of brain tumors and other brain disorders,” said Samuel L. Hughes, M.D., Clinical Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Cooper. “The significant improvements in treatment delivery dramatically decrease patient treatment time and minimize the risk of radiation exposure to personnel.”
Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™ automates treatment delivery so it’s as easy as pushing a button. This ease of use, combined with robust software that simplifies complicated treatment plans plus unmatched precision for treatment delivery, gives physicians tools that optimize their skills and allow them to treat patients as never before.
The treatment consists of four steps:
- Attachment of a head frame – This allows the doctor to accurately pinpoint the target to be treated in your brain. This lightweight frame, which is attached to your head with four screws, ensures that the radiation beams can be directed with precision. The frame also prevents your head from moving during imaging and treatment procedures. Local anaesthetic is applied where the screws are to be attached.
- Imagery – Imaging is required 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 to provide reference points on the images for the treatment plan. After imaging, the coordinate box is removed.
- Treatment planning – Once images have been taken, the patient can rest while the physician develops a very precise and accurate treatment plan. No two treatment plans are alike; every patient’s plan is individually designed to address the specific medical condition. The doctor, very often together with another specialist in the team, makes the plan in a specially designed computer and calculates how the treatment should be performed.
- Implementation of treatment – The patient will lie down on the treatment couch and the head frame will be attached to the helmet. The patient is awake during the procedure and can easily communicate with the doctor or nurse through an audio and video connection. The treatment is silent and totally painless. Often patients are able to listen to music during the treatment, which lasts from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size and shape of the target.
The effects of the treatment occur over time. Radiation treatments are designed to stop the growth of tumors or lesions, which means that the effect will be seen over a period of weeks or months. During this time, doctors stay in contact with the patient to assess their progress, which may include follow-up MRI, CT or angiography images.
“The Gamma Knife will revolutionize neurosurgical options for our patients,” says Dr. Goldman. “It is gentle, non-invasive and effective; allowing us to continue our commitment to provide the most advanced technology in a caring and family centered environment.”
For more information about the Cooper Neurological Institute or to make an appointment with a Cooper University Hospital physician at an office near you, please call 1-800-8-COOPER (800-826-6737) to speak with a member of our physician referral and information service.