Finding the Right Doctor for Gamma Knife Surgery


Sarah Lewis, PharmD

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If you need Gamma Knife® surgery, you’ll want a highly qualified doctor who specializes in brain stereotactic radiosurgery to perform the procedure. How do you find the best Gamma Knife surgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.

There are some top things to look for.

Find a brain stereotactic radiosurgeon who:

  • Is board certified and who specializes in Gamma Knife surgery. This doctor may be a board-certified neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, or other specialist with extensive training and expertise in stereotactic radiation of the brain

  • Has experience treating patients with your specific condition

  • Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes in Gamma Knife surgery or radiosurgery in general

  • Accepts your insurance

  • You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions

Here are five steps to finding the best neurosurgeon to perform Gamma Knife surgery:

1. Ask around.

Start by creating a list of potential Gamma Knife surgeons. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search for providers in your area who perform Gamma Knife radiosurgery in your area. shows patient satisfaction ratings and reviews, which give insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, leave reviews, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.

2. Research credentials and experience.

Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a board-certified brain specialist, radiation oncologist, or other specialist who performs Gamma Knife surgery on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has treating your condition or performing Gamma Knife surgery, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications.

Also, confirm the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You’ll find all this information on

3. Examine hospital performance.

Radiosurgery procedures require a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare providers. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of neurological care at the hospital where the Gamma Knife surgeon practices.

Find out where the doctors on your list can treat patients. Then research those hospitals on Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures, including cranial neurosurgery procedures.

Ideally, you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5 stars) for neurosurgery, then find a doctor who can admit and treat patients at this hospital. Avoid hospitals with lower than expected (1 star) results.

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the doctor also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a doctor who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome.

4. Interview the surgeon.

As you narrow down your list of Gamma Knife specialists, call each doctor’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.

  • Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor.

  • Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand?

Here are some questions to ask the doctor:

  • Do you typically treat patients like me?

  • How many Gamma Knife surgeries have you performed?

  • What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?

  • How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery?

  • What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?

5. Determine your insurance benefit.

To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan. A doctor who participates in your insurance plan doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.