Step 1:Before the treatment
Before you have treatment your doctor will explain the entire process to you, and answer any questions you may have. Gamma Knife “Surgery” does not require any cutting or shaving of your hair. The nurse will contact you prior to treatment to discuss any further questions or concerns.
Step 2:Fitting of the head frame
An essential component to the Gamma Knife treatment procedure is the use of a specialised precision head frame. The head frame performs two important functions. Firstly it allows the doctors to very precisely and accurately pinpoint the target or area requiring treatment. Secondly by wearing the frame during treatment it ensures you remain completely still throughout the procedure. The head frame is attached to your head via four pins using local anaesthetic.
Step 3:Target localisation
Once the head frame has been fitted a series of tests will be performed, this includes imaging techniques such as MRI, CT or angiography. This is to determine the exact size and location of the target area.
Step 4:Treatment planning
This step is performed without the patient. The information gained from the imaging in step 3 is used by your doctors with the assistance of highly trained Medical Physicists and Radiation Therapists to develop an accurate and customised treatment plan. Every plan is unique and tailored to the specific requirements of each patient.
Step 5:Gamma Knife treatment
Once the treatment plan has been completed by the team of professionals your treatment can begin. With your head frame attached you will be positioned on the treatment couch. The procedure is completely painless and you will remain awake throughout the procedure with the treatment team monitoring you the whole time. The length of the treatment will vary from patient to patient and depends on the size and shape of the target area. The treatment time may only be as long as a few minutes or up to an hour.
Step 6:After Treatment
Following treatment, the head frame and pins will be removed. Generally you will feel no effects of the treatment; however some patients may experience a mild headache or minor swelling from where the frame was attached.
Step 7:Follow up
An appointment will be made for you to see your doctor after your treatment. The effectiveness of your Gamma Knife treatment will be evaluated over time. The radiation treatment is designed to stop the growth of tumours or dysfunctional tissue, therefore it may take weeks or even months before the full benefit of the treatment may be realised. It may be necessary to have follow up imaging such as MRI or CT to assess your progress over time.