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What is gamma knife surgery?

Gamma knife surgery is a type of radiation treatment performed with the Gamma Knife®, a noninvasive neurosurgical tool. Gamma knife surgery involves focusing small, highly precise doses of radiation into the brain. This shrinks small brain tumors or blocks abnormal blood vessels and nerves that cause pain or seizures. Gamma knife surgery can also treat some brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Gamma knife surgery does not actually involve a knife or surgery. The name is derived from the knife-like precision of the radiation delivered to the target area. Gamma knife surgery is also called gamma knife radiosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. 

Gamma knife surgery is an effective alternative to neurosurgery for some patients. Gamma knife surgery can help if you cannot tolerate neurosurgery because of your medical condition, age, or preference. It is less invasive and requires less hospitalization and recovery time than neurosurgery. Discuss all the procedure and surgery options with your doctor and consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having gamma knife surgery.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 12, 2013

© 2015 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Gamma Knife surgery. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/features/gamma_knife.htm.
  2. Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. Columbia University Medical Center. http://www.columbianeurosurgery.org/conditions/gamma-knife-radiosurgery/.
  3. Gamma Knife. University of California San Francisco Medical Center. http://www.ucsfhealth.org/treatments/gamma_knife/index.html.
  4. Parkinson’s Disease. BetterMedicine.com. http://www.bettermedicine.com/topic/parkinsons/.

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