January 23, 2020
Penn State Hershey Gamma Knife – What it is and what to expect

Penn State Hershey Gamma Knife – What it is and what to expect


[ Music ]>>James McInerney: Gamma knife is a highly
precise tool that delivers radiation to inside of the head and we use it to treat a variety
of different things including things like tumors, most obviously vascular malformations,
blood vessel malformations. We also use it for facial pain, trigeminal
neuralgia, all of these things respond to us basically targeting an area in the brain
and annihilating it with the radiation in a very precise way to make sure that nothing
around what we’re shooting at gets hurt by the radiation.
Well the nice thing about the gamma knife is that we can usually do it in a single day
procedure and what it eliminates is the need for a brain operation.
And so instead of spending several days in the hospital recovering from a brain operation,
somebody’s able to come home the same day after a gamma knife procedure.
The nice thing about the Perfexion is that it’s a more versatile machine.
It allows us to get to places that we couldn’t get with the previous treatment and allows
us to do things faster as well. And so we’re now able to treat people more
efficiently and definitely now even sooner than we were before.>>Sandi Brettler: Once patients have been
scheduled for a gamma knife procedure, we bring them in at 6 o’clock in the morning.
We start an IV. We give them a little bit of sedation. We call it twilight sedation
so that they really don’t mind what we do throughout the day and that they’re comfortable
and pain free. The physicians arrive and they apply a lightweight
head frame. Once the head frame’s applied we go down for
imaging whether that’s an MRI or a CAT scan sometimes even an angiogram and once the imaging
is complete they return to the gamma knife center to await the procedure.
The physicians start planning the procedure and sometimes that can take just a few minutes.
Sometimes it could take over an hour or so, depends on the complexity of the case.
When the treatment is done being planned, the physicist then reviews the plan for safety
measures and ensures that we’re treating the proper patient for the proper reason and proper
side. Then that information is then sent over to
the machine to be loaded in and that patient’s plan gets loaded into the machine.
Once the plan’s complete the patients go back to the room and they lay down on the bed that’s
attached to the machine and their head is attached into the head frame holder.
We attach their head into the system and review again the appropriateness of the plan.
We do some quality checks to ensure that everything is appropriate and the treatment begins.
Treatments can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
Again that depends on the complexity of the case.
Once the treatment’s completed the patients return to the holding area where we remove
the head frame, apply some bandages, review their discharge instructions with their family
members and then they get to go home. Throughout the day we are able to give patients
additional sedation or pain medication to help with that but because we use some numbing
medicine to attach the head frame, most patients have a numb head throughout the day.
If they do have any pain we can certainly give them additional pain medication.
The beauty of this treatment is that it’s a one day treatment.
Patients can come in very early in the morning. We do the gamma knife procedure and they get
to go home usually by midday or so. Again it depends on the complexity of their
case as to how long that takes but for the most part, everybody’s home by around midday.
Our gamma knife team consists of several physicians including a neurosurgeon, a radiation oncologist,
a medical physicist, and a nurse. Radiology technicians down at the MRI or the
CAT scan, our medical assistants and some of our additional employees up here in the
gamma knife center. [ Music ]

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