Gamma Knife (surgery)

Gamma Knife Surgery

Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife surgery is a procedure where a beam of radiation is used to burn away targeted brain tissue. The procedure is non-invasive in the sense that the skull is not cut/opened. The surgery generally targets lesions or scar tissue that are focal points for seizures.

Not everyone is a candidate for gamma knife surgery. Many tests are required to identify the focal points from which seizures are emanating. If you are a candidate for this operation, the results (for seizure control) are generally good, but the potential adverse events appear to be fairly common.

Because this is still a relatively new treatment, there is some question as to the longer term consequences for this treatment - both for efficacy (are results permanent?) and adverse events.

Efficacy

According to epilepsy.com:
The success rate ... is similar to that reported following standard temporal lobectomy.

Potential Adverse Events

According to epilepsy.com, potential adverse events include:
  • transient increase in seizures
  • symptoms of radiation-induced tissue changes:
    • headache
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • depression
    • dizziness
  • visual field deficits

Cost

This procedure is cost prohibitive without insurance. It scores an 8 for a general approximation of out of pocket expenses (for what insurance does not cover).

Type

This is a one time procedure (hopefully!).

Latency

It can take up to a year or two to realize the full benefit of seizure reductions from Gamma knife surgery.

This page last modified September 9, 2019.

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