Referring physicians are encouraged to speak to a member of our Gamma Knife® surgery team, by calling the Image-guided Surgery Center, at 202-877-5555 Monday through Friday, or toll free at 1-877-942-GAMMA.
We can also be reached via email at GammaKnife@medstar.net. All inquiries will be answered within 24 hours.
The Washington Hospital Center Neuroscience Institute guarantees that all referring physicians will receive the appropriate requested information and the maximum support possible from the Gamma Knife surgery team, including timely reports, timely phone contact and ongoing consultation as required.
The Leksell Gamma Knife consists of a large, heavily shielded hemisphere (collimator), containing 201 cobalt-60 sources. The collimated (parallel) beams of radiation emanating from the cobalt-60 sources are positioned to converge at a single point within the unit, where the procedure takes place.
The patient is fitted with a Leksell® stereotactic frame, which prevents movement of the head during treatment, and provides a simple stereotactic approach. With the frame in place, a MRI, CT or angiography is performed to allow calculation of precise coordinate settings for the target location. The patient rests on a special couch that moves into the Gamma Knife, positioning the patient’s head for treatment.
The procedure takes 15-40 minutes, and is normally performed with local anesthesia. A variety of helmet sizes allows for four different beam sizes, with openings ranging from 4 to 18 millimeters. Complex lesion shapes can be treated through multiple exposures, and by readjusting the collimator and head position.
Patients experience virtually no discomfort or immediate side effects. The benefits of treatment manifest themselves over time; the lesion will dissolve or shrink gradually and eventually disappear, or will exhibit no further growth. The time period varies with the type, size and location of the lesion.
As the survival rate for primary cancers improves, physicians are seeing a corresponding increase in metastatic brain tumors. At least 10-15 percent of all patients detected with a primary cancer will develop a secondary cancer in the brain, with metastatic brain tumors affecting about 200,000 people a year.
Whether for palliative or curative purposes, more and more brain tumor patients are joining the nearly half a million people worldwide who have been treated with Gamma Knife surgery. Studies show that Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain tumors results in local control exceeding an average of 85 percent for the management of tumors in any brain location.