GAME CHANGING GAMMA KNIFE TREATMENT PROMISES HOPE FOR 11 YEAR OLD JACK
IN JULY THIS YEAR, 11-YEAR-OLD JACK OTTENS UNDERWENT GAMMA KNIFE SURGERY AT MACQUARIE
UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, WITH THE RADIOSURGERY APPROACH HIS BEST OPTION FOR TREATING
A DEEP-BRAIN AVM.
Jack Ottens has became one of Australia’s youngest patients ever to have Gamma Knife treatment for a deep-brain
arteriovenous malformation (AVM). The treatment took place at Macquarie University Hospital, which includes one of
Australia’s leading neurosurgery and neurosciences programs.
“Gamma Knife surgery has revolutionised the management of many complex or inoperable brain conditions – including
AVMs,” said Associate Professor John Fuller, the Macquarie University Hospital surgeon who performed Jack’s treatment along with his team.
“While smaller AVMs can be removed surgically, larger ones and those buried deeper in the brain are now best treated
by Gamma Knife.”
Melbourne-based Jack developed an AVM at the age of five. He was treated with LINAC radiosurgery, which obliterated most but not all of the mass. With the risks too high to repeat LINAC radiosurgery, doctors agreed that Gamma Knife treatment was his safest option.
An AVM is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in the brain or spine, with haemorrhage a major risk. Bleeding from
an AVM most often occurs between the ages of 10 and 30. Jack has already experienced two such haemorrhages.
“In Jack’s case, Gamma Knife presents a promising option in the absence of other viable modalities,” said Associate Professor Fuller.
“We are confident that with the high-dose gradient, we can effectively manage the residual malformation. It takes a long time, however, for complete obliteration to occur so final results won’t be determined for years.”
After Jack became ill, his mother Christine spent years looking nationally and internationally for the best treatment.The family feels fortunate that Macquarie University Hospital offers Jack his best option in Gamma Knife surgery. Macquarie University Hospital brought Gamma Knife technology to Australia ten years ago in an effort to offer patients with complex AVMs and brain tumours a new non-surgical form of treatment.
The Gamma Knife is one of the most precise, powerful and proven treatments for brain disorders. It delivers an extremely accurate dose of gamma radiation while reducing exposure to sensitive healthy tissue.
“Early data from Macquarie University Hospital’s Gamma Knife treatment for AVM shows results in line with international best practice,” explained Associate Professor Fuller.
“International data demonstrates a very high rate of obliteration within a few years of treatment.”
Jack’s treatment at Macquarie University Hospital was made possible with support from the Monique and Doug Thompson Fund, established with a philanthropic gift from the Thompson family to provide access to the potentially
life-saving treatment for those who could not otherwise afford it.