Gamma Knife Patient Expectations

A multidisciplinary team of neurological surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiologists, nurses, computer specialists, and physician assistants unite to provide the patient with comprehensive, advanced care before, during, and after the procedure. Trained anesthesiologists are available when required for pediatric cases (we have more experience than any other center). Neurosurgeons provide and direct every step of the procedure.

Patients are selected for radiosurgery after thorough review of all prior records and imaging studies. After admission to the hospital, the patient undergoes placement of a stereotactic frame—a mechanical guiding device that helps position the patient in the Gamma Knife—to the head.

The patient may be given a mild oral or intravenous sedative. The location of the brain target is identified by advanced imaging technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), magnetoencephalography (MEG), or on occasion, cerebral angiography. Then, the stereotactic frame is used to position the patient’s head within a large, helmet-like device with small openings called “collimator ports.” Radiation beams are adjusted through these ports to direct the appropriate amount of energy precisely at the target tissue.

The Gamma Knife suite at UPMC Presbyterian is an expansive area of patient-prep and dose-planning rooms designed for efficient patient evaluation and intraoperative care and to maximize patient care and comfort. The units themselves are housed in specially shielded rooms equipped with video monitoring and patient-doctor communication equipment. The suite also contains equipment to anesthetize the patient if necessary. Family or friends wait in a comfortable waiting room nearby.