Contrary to its name, stereotactic radiosurgery, also sometimes called a gamma knife procedure, is not surgery at all. It is called radiosurgery because it uses radiation like surgery to treat tumors. However, instead of surgically removing the tumor, this non-invasive procedure utilizes intense focused beams of radiation to damage the DNA of cells in brain tumors, meningiomas, and acoustic neuromas. Neurosurgery One’s Dr. J. Adair Prall also uses it to treat trigeminal neuralgia. Stereotactic radiosurgery can be performed on a variety of technology systems, including Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, Zap-X, and other linear accelerator-based systems.
Conditions Treated With Stereotactic Radiosurgery
What is stereotactic radiosurgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery uses 360-degree beams of high-intensity and highly focused radiation beams to destroy the DNA of cells in tumors to prevent them from duplicating and growing. It is a non-invasive procedure that is used to treat tumors, both cancerous and benign, in different parts of the body. Neurosurgery One uses stereotactic radiosurgery specifically to treat tumors in the head and brain and also to treat trigeminal neuralgia. In the case of trigeminal neuralgia, the radiation destroys the nerve ending that is sending pain signals to the brain.
Is stereotactic radiosurgery the same thing as gamma knife?
Stereotactic radiosurgery is sometimes referred to as gamma knife or gamma knife radiation. In fact, gamma knife is the name of one type of technology used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery. Other types of technology or machines used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery include a linear accelerator (Linac), and Zap-X. Neurosurgery One neurosurgeons who perform stereotactic radiosurgery use all three types of machines. Littleton Adventist Hospital will be adding the Zap-X technology in late 2021 or early 2022 and will be the only center in the metro Denver area to offer this new form of stereotactic radiosurgery.
Is stereotactic radiosurgery a minimally invasive brain surgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery, also called gamma knife in some cases, is not surgery at all. In fact, it is a non-invasive procedure that uses radiation to destroy the DNA in brain tumor cells so that they cannot reproduce. It also can be used to treat acoustic neuroma tumors and trigeminal neuralgia.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is performed as on outpatient procedure, which means you check in, have the procedure, and go home on the same day.
Is stereotactic radiosurgery effective at treating trigeminal neuralgia?
Dr. J. Adair Prall at Neurosurgery One performs stereotactic radiosurgery as one of three treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia. This non-invasive procedure intentionally damages the trigeminal nerve, stopping the nerve from conducting pain signals. Since the beams are focused on the target, the procedure results in minimal damage to healthy tissue. The procedure is completed in one visit and patients return to daily activity the next day.
- Outcomes: Approximately a 90% chance of improvement (Can be repeated, with secondary procedures providing an 89% success rate, even in those whose condition recurred or who failed initial treatment.)
- Benefits: Outpatient, noninvasive procedure; no anesthesia; virtually no risk or recovery time, other than a 2% chance of permanent numbness (not weakness or sagging)
- Drawbacks: Delayed pain relief, up to a month or more, but typically within one week; slightly lower success rate than other surgical therapies
- Ideal Candidate: Most patients with trigeminal neuralgia; in particular, those with relatively good but not great control who are willing to undergo a very low-impact procedure without any recovery time to lessen their pain, their side effects or their need for medication
Dr. Prall has performed more than 850 stereotactic radiosurgery procedures.