WHAT TO EXPECT
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.
To be considered and accepted for treatment:
1. The patient is requested to post his / her MRI disc, if available, to the Gamma Knife Nurse Coordinator for discussion by the multidisciplinary team (MDT) at the next MDT meeting. The MDT will determine whether Gamma Knife treatment is appropriate. This is a free service.
Gamma Knife Nurse Coordinator, Genesis Cancer Care
Macquarie University Hospital
3 Technology Place, Level B2
Macquarie University NSW 2109
2. The patient is contacted by the GK Nurse Coordinator and advised whether Gamma Knife treatment is appropriate.
3. The patient has face to face consultations with a GK Neurosurgeon and a GK Radiation Oncologist.
4. The GK Nurse Coordinator advises the patient of the GK treatment date.
STEP 2: FITTING OF THE 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 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 (indeed can be considered boring) 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 can be from one to three hours. The entire Gamma Knife procedure – frame on to frame off – therefore takes approximately two to eight hours.
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 either your treating or referring doctor. Should you have any queries following treatment, please contact your Consultant or the nursing staff at Radiation Oncology. 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.