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Brain surgery with no incision: Fairview-University offers the Gamma Knife

Posted on: 03/30/2005

Brain surgery with no incision: Fairview-University offers the Gamma Knife

Contact: Ryan Davenport, Fairview, 612.672.4164

MINNEAPOLIS (March 30, 2005) – University of Minnesota surgeons at Fairview-University Medical Center have a new way to perform delicate brain surgery—without ever making an incision. The Gamma Knife, a powerful radiation tool used to treat brain tumors and other lesions, brings the field of neurosurgery to a new level in the Twin Cities.

The Gamma Knife Center at Fairview-University opens next month. The Gamma Knife is actually not a knife at all. It is a precise radiation tool that focuses beams of gamma radiation on the tumor, with minimal effects on surrounding healthy tissue.

“The Gamma Knife is the most up-to-date version of the most reliable, best-tested and most widely used radiosurgery system in the world,” said Stephen J. Haines, M.D., University of Minnesota professor and head of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Radiosurgery is a surgical procedure in which narrow beams of radiation are targeted to tissue within the brain. The Gamma Knife can treat and control tumors that start in the brain or inside the skull, such as glioma, meningioma and acoustic neuroma or cancer that spreads to the brain from elsewhere. Patients with brain vascular malformations, trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain) and other intracranial lesions can also benefit from the use of the Gamma Knife.

The Gamma Knife Center is a partnership of Fairview-University Medical Center, University of Minnesota Physicians Neurosurgery and Therapeutic Radiology Services and Minneapolis Radiation Oncology.

In February, Fairview-University began treating patients with TomoTherapy, a $2.6- million cancer treatment system. TomoTherapy combines CT scans and radiation therapy, precisely targeting tumors and limiting damage to healthy tissue. TomoTherapy can adjust the size, shape and intensity of the radiation beam to conform to the tumor. Together with the Gamma Knife Center, these technologies provide patients a full range of radiosurgery and precisely-focused radiotherapy with the most modern and longest proven technology, Haines said.

Specially-trained neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists from across the Upper Midwest will be able to use the Gamma Knife Center to treat their patients in a team approach. The center will also be a research site, with a goal of improving the outcomes and quality of life for patients.


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