Gamma Knife Technology Offers Painless Radiosurgery

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick is pleased to offer the Gamma Knife Icon, a state-of-the-art, noninvasive tool specifically designed to treat many brain conditions, including cancer, vascular anomalies, and functional and brain disorders. The Gamma Knife is not a knife in the normal sense of the word. In fact, it is not an actual knife at all, but rather numerous painless beams of radiation which are delivered with extreme accuracy.

Gentle, Noninvasive Treatment

Your physician will make no incision in your head and no scalpel is needed. Instead, the Gamma Knife uses an approach known as radiosurgery to focus radiation directly on the intended area of the brain without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.

Since no incision is made, your head does not need to be shaved and risk of surgical complications are low. You may experience side effects, but they are often mild. Headache, dizziness, fatigue or nausea may be experienced immediately after treatment, but the effects will disappear soon after the procedure.

Latest Technology: Why Gamma Knife Icon Is Different

Gamma Knife technology is the most accepted and widely used radiosurgery treatment in the world. More than one million people have undergone Gamma Knife treatment. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is the standard of care for its indications. More than thirty thousand patients worldwide are treated with Gamma Knife surgery every year.

Over the years, Gamma Knife has been refined and improved with advances in engineering radiation physics, robotic controls and computerized treatment planning. RWJUH is home to the Gamma Knife Icon, the latest version of the technology. This exceeds the performance of previous Gamma Knife versions with increased accuracy and patient comfort, and reduced treatment times.

Through the use of three-dimensional computer-aided planning and a high degree of immobilization of the patient, the treatment can minimize the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy brain tissue. The radiation source used for this treatment is called Cobalt-60.

There are 192 sources of Cobalt-60 loaded within the treatment unit. Thousands of radiation beams can be generated from these sources with a level of accuracy of 0.15mm, less than the thickness of a strand of hair. Individually, each radiation beam is too weak to damage the normal tissues it crosses on the way to the target. But when focused precisely on that target, the beams intersect and the combined radiation is sufficient to treat the targeted area.

Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so accurate, the full course of radiation can be delivered during one to five treatment sessions, compared with ten, twenty, or even thirty visits for classic linear accelerator (linac) treatments. Linear accelerators use lower daily doses of radiation to deliver treatment, which is known as conventionally fractionated radiation therapy.

Compared to conventionally fractionated treatment, Gamma Knife offers a reduction in the unwanted excess radiation to healthy brain, as well as a decreased overall duration for a course of radiation. This is important to all patients, but particularly to cancer patients who are often receiving other treatments which may depend on the completion of radiation first. For these patients, treatment of a metastatic brain tumor — a cancer that has spread from the original site — might delay other systemic treatments by weeks if less precise radiation treatments are used.

Conditions Treated with Gamma Knife

Some of the conditions treated using the Gamma Knife at RWJUH are:

State-of-the-Art Facility

The Gamma Knife Center at RWJUH was designed to house the latest Gamma Knife technology, with a special focus on patient convenience and comfort. The facility is conveniently located on the hospital campus on the first floor:

Gamma Knife Center
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
10 Plum Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Free parking is provided in a parking garage attached to the facility.