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Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: A Lifesaving Treatment

Gamma Knife surgery treated Kay Brockwell's brain tumor, returning her to health.
Gamma Knife surgery treated Kay Brockwell’s brain tumor.

When Kay Brockwell of Altavista, Va., received the diagnoses of brain cancer last summer, her body had already been through the mill – twice. In 2006, she was operated on for ovarian and colon cancers, followed by weeks of chemotherapy. In 2009, it was lymph node cancer, followed by additional chemotherapy.

Brain cancer typically means more of the same – invasive surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. But Brockwell got offered something quite different this time: Gamma Knife surgery.

What Exactly IS a “Gamma Knife”?

It’s called a knife, but instead of a scalpel, neurosurgeons focus gamma rays – high energy beams of radiation – on a single point in the brain. To eliminate deep-seated tumors from the head or neck, 192  rays deliver a powerful dose of radiation to the tumor without harming the surrounding healthy tissue.

The Benefits?

  • Minimal risk of harm to the scalp, skull or brain
  • Speedy recovery
  • Long-lasting effects

According to Jason Sheehan, MD, the UVA neurosurgeon who treated Brockwell, the procedure is proven to be safe and is excellent for treating cancers like hers. “Within a month, 90 percent of these tumors shrink and some disappear entirely,” Sheehan says.

Case in point: A couple of months after her surgery, Brockwell’s brain tumor had shrunk in size and her neurological condition dramatically improved.

“Dr. Sheehan and his staff are wonderful,” she says.  “I had laughed at the thought that they could offer brain surgery on an outpatient basis. But they do…We need to be thankful for the Dr. Sheehans of the world.”

Want to know more?

Get details on how the Gamma Knife surgery works or find out how you can ask a question of Dr. Sheehan online.

UVA: A Pioneer in Radiosurgery

UVA’s record speaks for itself:

  • Since 1989, more than 8,000 patients from around the world have come to UVA for this treatment.
  • UVA doctors helped pioneer this approach – we’re the second hospital in the U.S. to have and use the Gamma Knife.
  • Specialists from around the world travel here for training.
  • UVA offers the latest innovation – the Gamma Knife Perfexion

“We have the most advanced technology – and we also have a dedicated, highly experienced radiosurgical team,” Sheehan continues. “I believe this expertise helps make our patient outcomes superb and draws patients from throughout the world.”

Tags: neurosurgery

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