What is stereotactic radiosurgery for brain tumours?

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive procedure that involves destroying cancer in a specific bodily region, such as the brain. As a result, concentrated gamma rays are delivered to the targeted area.

Gamma knife radiosurgery is a specific procedure to treat brain tumours and other abnormalities affecting the brain, such as vascular malformations. A gamma knife is not normally classified as traditional surgery because no incision is made. Instead, low or high radiation doses are precisely delivered to the affected areas.

How do you perform the procedure?

You lie flat on a bed that moves into the Gamma knife machine while a helmet inside protects your head. An intravenous drip is placed, so you remain hydrated throughout the procedure. Radiosurgery for brain tumours depends on the shape and size of the targeted area. Normally, stereotactic surgery can take between one and four hours.

During Gamma knife radiosurgery, you will not feel the radiation penetrating the region or hear any sound the machine makes. However, you can still talk to your doctor using a microphone.

What is the outlook?

Once radiosurgery is complete, your doctor removes the head frame. You may experience tenderness or begin bleeding at the pin sites. Dr Mthombeni normally prescribes medications for headaches, nausea or vomiting. You will still be able to drink and eat after the procedure.

Gamma knife radiosurgery is considered an outpatient procedure, but the process can take up most of the day. Therefore, arranging for someone trustworthy to drive you home after the procedure would be best. However, you can also choose to stay overnight in the hospital, depending on the extent of the procedure.

You will begin to notice the effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery over time, depending on the condition treated. For example, benign tumours will begin to shrink between eighteen months and two years, while malignant tumours shrink more quickly within a few months.


Why should I consider Gamma knife radiosurgery?

Due to the non-invasive nature of Gamma knife radiosurgery, the procedure is considered a safer alternative to neurosurgery (standard brain surgery).


What should I avoid wearing before the procedure?

Please avoid wearing jewellery, hairpieces, sunglasses, makeup or dentures for the procedure.


How do you deliver stereotactic radiation?

Medical imaging provides coordinates for oncologists to direct radiation beams or an instrument in three different planes.

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