From David Pratt, MD, Radiation Oncologist

August 12, 2013

Yes, it is possible. And you can even walk out the door a few hours later.

This kind of surgery without any cutting is performed all the time by OHC physicians. But whether it’s right for you is a different matter.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive procedure performed by highly trained and skilled OHC surgeons. The “surgery” is a high dose of radiation, aimed precisely, used to treat cancers and other disorders throughout the body.

However, when a problem arises in and around the brain, one that’s difficult to reach and requires as little healthy tissue to be removed or destroyed as possible, we often turn to a very specific, sophisticated type of radiosurgery: Gamma Knife® radiosurgery.

Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Actually, it’s just the brand name of the medical device. And it’s not surgery in the way we traditionally think of it.

Like other stereotactic radiosurgeries, Gamma Knife surgery allows OHC physicians to target tumors (and other neurological problems) with incredible pinpoint precision…and no scalpels. How do we do it? Well, the first requirement is a well-trained surgeon and medical support team. Thankfully, we have plenty of both at OHC.

The second is the Gamma Knife, which projects 192 radiation beams from many different angles onto the problem area in the brain. While sometimes the issue is a malignant tumor, the problem can also be benign, such as a meningioma or a neurological condition like trigeminal neuralgia.

With the patient lying perfectly still, the radiation beams pass harmlessly through healthy tissue. At a single focus point, the beams come together and treat the tumor or lesion. In fact, up to 10 tumors — each as small as only 0.2 millimeters in size — can be treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Patients are left with surprisingly few and minor side effects, allowing them to return to their normal activities within a day or so.

There’s another huge advantage. While conventional radiation therapy requires small daily doses for many weeks, radiosurgery is given in just one to five larger doses. However, because the radiation beams for Gamma Knife need to be so precisely placed, we need our patients to remain absolutely still throughout the operation. To accomplish this, we attach a stabilizing “frame” to the patient’s head. As with the rest of the treatment process, this is a pain-free procedure.

My OHC colleagues share my enthusiasm for Gamma Knife radiosurgery when used in the right patient situation. “I absolutely believe it’s better,” says Dr. Peter Fried. It’s more concise, more conformal, and it’s just a better choice for patients.”

Just think. Certain tumors, lesions, and other abnormalities in the brain can be treated without the inherent risks and recovery time associated with surgical procedures that literally cut into the brain. And patients who once thought of themselves as poor candidates for conventional surgery — due to their advanced age or other health concerns — now have a safe, convenient option thanks to our ability to perform precise brain surgery without a scalpel.

Dr. David Pratt is an OHC radiation oncologist located in our Blue Ash and Kenwood offices. He specializes in treating lung cancer, brain tumors, GI malignancies, and gynecological malignancies.

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