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The Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Center

GENERAL PATIENT GUIDE

Preparing for Treatment
Patients tour the Gamma Knife Center, meet their Gamma Knife team and complete laboratory tests prior to treatment. Physicians examine patients to ensure that no other serious health problems exist and to review all medications that the patient is taking. Patients may not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening prior to surgery.

Frame Placement
After admission through the hospital's main admitting office, transporters accompany the patient to the Gamma Knife Center for frame placement. At this time, nurses assess the patient, and the patient meets his or her anesthesiologist. An intravenous tube is placed in the patient's arm to deliver fluids and medications.

The patient receives a local anesthetic while the Gamma Knife Center's neurosurgeons attach a stereotactic headframe to the skull with four pins. The headframe will hold the patients still in a special helmet that guides the beams of radiation. Patients may feel pressure when the frame is attached, but no sharp pain.


Pinpointing the Treatment Area
Patients proceed to the radiology department, where the surgeons and a radiologist perform imaging studies to pinpoint the precise target of radiation. Patients are then escorted to the Gamma Knife Center in the basement of the hospital. A nurse places a clear plastic helmet on each patient to measure the contours of the head.

The Gamma Knife team requires about 30-60 minutes to calculate the appropriate radiation dose. Visitors may stay with patients at this time, while patients rest in bed or sit up in a chair. Patients may bring books, CDs and hard candy to the observation area. During this waiting period, a nurse monitors each patient's vital signs, and makes sure that the patient is comfortable.


Gamma Knife Surgery
When treatment planning is complete, the patient is placed on the Gamma Knife bed. The stereotactic frame attached to the patient's head is fastened under a large metal collimator helmet. The Gamma Knife computer slides the bed, helmet and patient back toward the sphere where the radiation is delivered. Each treatment lasts 15-90 minutes, and may include more than one trip into the machine.

Observing via closed-circuit television, physicians and nurses talk to the patient while monitoring his or her condition and progress during treatment. After the last treatment, physicians remove the stereotactic headframe and cover the four pin sites with small bandages. Patients are then taken to their hospital rooms and given medication if needed for headaches or upset stomachs. A nurse removes the intravenous tube when patients regain their ability to drink fluids.


Leaving the Hospital
Nurses instruct patients about their follow-up care before discharge. This care includes visits to patients' referring physicians and to Gamma Knife Center neurosurgeons.

 

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