Australia is now one of the leading countries providing brain tumor patients with Gamma Knife treatment, a new innovative treatment with promising results. Thanks to the Macquarie University Hospital, patients can now seek the latest medical technology to treat cancer. The Genesis Cancer Center as part of the Macquarie University Hospital performs gamma knife surgery for brain tumor patients.
Benefits of Gamma Knife Surgery
Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) has numerous benefits Gamma Knife surgery is minimally invasive with no actual surgery being performed on the brain at all. With the use of gamma radiation lasers, the treatment is delivered quickly, more precisely and under controlled conditions. The dose is also decided beforehand based on the case and the treatment is customized individually for each patient by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) of radiologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists.
Moreover, the Gamma Knife surgery technique has been fine tuned so well that there is very little scatter with the gamma radiation and thus causes very little scarring or damage to surrounding tissue. Its high-tech features allow the laser to target over 3 lesions simultaneously and operate on areas that are surgically considered inoperable. Many times, a tumor is in such a position that it becomes more risky to operate on it, resulting in severe side effects such as loss of vision, hearing etc. Therefore, surgeons would have previously recommended other methods to deal with the tumor. However, now with Gamma Knife surgery, Australians need not go far to opt for latest medical technology and the best treatments for brain tumors.
The procedure takes anywhere from minutes to a few hours however patients do not feel any discomfort. The only side effects reported were mild discomfort, nausea, or mild headaches from the head frame that is placed on the head of the patient to secure the position of the head during the procedure. Generally, a few over-the-counter routine pain relievers are enough to treat these complaints. Other than that, doctors recommend that a patient should stay in the hospital for a few hours under observation but can generally resume all social activities generally within a few days. The procedure itself is painless and that is what makes it so popular.
From a surgeon’s point of view, Gamma Knife surgery diminishes all risk of infection, hemorrhage, blood loss, spinal fluid leakage, any scarring, and any disfigurement due to traditional surgical methods. There is very little post operational recovery and that helps to minimize administrative tasks as well. It also frees up the hospital so that more patients that require hospitalization can be tended to.
For the patients, the Gamma Knife surgery treatment carries very low levels of stress and emotional or psychological trauma compared to the traditional methods of a brain surgery. Gamma Knife surgery has a proven track record of 40 years with very rare cases of complications, enough to be deemed negligible.
The procedure to undergo Gamma Knife surgery at Macquarie University Hospital is explained very systematically and the great team of doctors is always there to answer any other questions of queries. There are simple steps to the procedure.
Receiving Gamma Knife Surgery Guide
Below is an overview for patients interested in receiving Gamma knife surgery in Australia. This is a summary of the procedure and steps. For further information, please contact Genesis Cancer Center.
1) Pre-op consultation: Here the doctors and nurses take time to explain all details of the treatment to the patient and their family and can answer any queries there may be. This open communication helps the patient feel relaxed and prepared for the procedure.
2) Head frame fitting: a head frame is fitted on the head of the patient. This frame is fitted using 4 pins, and a local anesthetic is injected into 4 points around the head. This is possibly the most painful part and is akin to the slight pinch of a regular injection. But once the anesthetic is administered, there is no more pain. Once the frame is fitted, the patient may feel some pressure but this feeling soon passes as the body gets adjusted to it within minutes. This head frame helps to stabilize the head so that accurate imaging can be done to localize the tumor. This will later on help deliver the laser treatment accurately to the exact position of the tumor.
3) Localizing the tumor: Using state of the art imaging technology, a few MRI scans and CT scans are taken to help pinpoint the tumor in the brain. This helps the team of doctors plan and execute the treatment.
4) Designing the treatment: At this stage, the team of doctors gets together to devise a plan of action to best tackle the tumor. Here they customize a plan completely tailor-made to each patient that decides on the method of gamma ray delivery, the exact location, dosage etc. This also determines how long the Gamma Knife surgery procedure will take and how soon the patient can be freed.
5) Gamma Knife surgery: The treatment begins but it is painless and the patient remains awake. This helps provide transparency and trust between the patient and doctor. The patient can see what is happening and therefore not be alarmed or stressed.
6) Post-operation: The head frame is removed and this is where a slight discomfort may be felt due to the pins and the head frame. However, mild pain relievers help ease this slight side effect. The patient is asked to stay in the hospital for a routine observation period, though it is not necessary. Since the surgery is minimally-invasive, the patient can go back to normal life right away without having any recovery period at all.
7) Follow-up: the doctor sets up appointments to check the progression of the treatment. The treatment is progressive and therefore more than one follow up is required to properly assess the success of Gamma Knife surgery. Additional scans may be necessary to see how the tumor has changed and decreased.
Overall, Gamma Knife surgery is a treatment with promising results for cancer patients with a brain tumor. It is a treatment that is currently used to treat many kinds of brain tumors. To see whether Gamma Knife surgery is an option for you, please contact the university and center for further information as well as consulting your local health profession.
2) Evidence and Other Resources: http://www.muh.org.au/ServicesSpecialties/GammaKnife/ForDoctors/EvidenceAndOtherResources.aspx
6) The benefits and risk of undergoing gamma knife surgery: http://peoplepledge.com.au/blog/the-benefits-and-risk-of-undergoing-gamma-knife-surgery/