Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife surgery represents one of the most advanced means available to manage brain tumors; arteriovenous malformations and pain or movement disorders. Requiring no surgical incision to expose the target, the Gamma Knife can destroy deep-seated brain tumors and blood vessel malformations in the head once considered inoperable. It can also eliminate pain conditions and certain movement disorders, as well as silence malfunctioning areas of the brain precisely, to stop seizures—or ease disabling pain problems—that have not responded to other management strategies.

[Read how the Gamma Knife had a positive result in a patient in Why I let a brain tumor go untouched for 10 years from the Washington Post.]

The Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center installed the first North American Gamma Knife in 1987 and subsequently introduced and pioneered each succeeding generation of technological improvement. Staffed by a highly skilled and productive team, we seek to provide rapid screening, scheduling, and completion of Gamma Knife radiosurgical procedures.

More than 18,000 patients have undergone radiosurgery in the department's Gamma Knife units since 1987. In September of 2007, the Perfexion® Gamma Knife unit was installed and in 2015 the Leksell Icon -- encompassing the latest advances in radiosurgical technology -- was installed.

The Gamma Knife Unit

The Gamma Knife contains 192- 201 cobalt-60 sources of approximately 30 curies each, placed in a circular array in a heavily shielded unit. The unit directs gamma radiation very precisely to a target point. Such target points selected in the brain can be placed at the center of the radiation focus, allowing an effective radiation dosage to be delivered in one treatment session. The Gamma Knife has proved effective for thousands of patients with benign or malignant brain tumors, vascular malformations, pain or other functional problems.

Find out more about the Gamma Knife: