Gamma Knife Treats 15,000th Patient

Pittsburgh, December 7, 2017 -- On Thursday, December 7, 2017, the Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery, under the direction of L. Dade Lunsford, MD, treated it’s 15,000th patient using the ground-breaking Leksell Gamma Knife radiosurgery system. Jiali Wang was treated for a brain tumor and was able to go home the same day.

Gamma Knife 15000th Patient with Dr. Lunsford
Gamma Knife's 15,000th patient, Jliali Wang (center), with Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery director L. Dade Lunsford, MD, (left) and radiation oncologist John C. Flickinger, MD (right).

Gamma Knife surgery, also sometimes referred to as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), is a non-invasive alternative to traditional brain surgery and radiation therapy for the treatment of complex, difficult-to-treat brain conditions. It's used to treat a wide variety of brain tumors, vascular malformations, movement disorders and facial pain. Targets are defined based on high resolution brain imaging done with precision guiding devices. No surgical incision is required.

In a single outpatient procedure, SRS delivers a single, high dose of irradiation to affected tissue through the intact skull, and is a treatment option favored for its precise accuracy, efficiency and outstanding therapeutic response. The stereotactic radiosurgery technique was developed in the 1960s by the late Lars Leksell, a Swedish physician and professor of neurosurgery at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

15000th Gamma Knife patient with staff
Gamma Knife's 15,000th patient, Jliali Wang (seated), with Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery nursing staff, Nancy Bastine, RN; Mark Geminetti, RN; Jonet Vacsulka, RN, BSN; Debra Jennette, RN, and Devorah Willaman, RN.

The Gamma Knife was first introduced in the United States in 1987 at then Presbyterian University Hospital by Dr. Lunsford. He had studied at the Karolinska Insitute under the direction of Dr. Leksell and Dr. Erik-Olof Backlund in 1980-81. Dr. Lunsford serves as the Lars Leksell and Distinguished Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. He recently received the Herbert Olivecrona award from the Karolinska Institute in recognition of his innovative and pioneering use of the Gamma Knife.

“Gamma Knife was once a disruptive technology,” Dr. Lunsford says. “With experience from 15,000 patients treated in Pittsburgh over the last 30 years, we can confirm that Gamma Knife brain surgery has become a sustaining technology because of its proven medical value, improved patient outcomes and quality of life, plus reduced costs to patients and health care insurers.”