Stereotactic radiosurgery is a radiation therapy technique for treating brain tumors without surgery. A rigid head frame is used to help aim high-dose radiation beams directly at the tumors and not at normal brain tissue. One stereotactic radiosurgery technique is called a gamma knife.
Gamma knife surgery, a form of medical technology used to treat people with neurological disorders, was developed in Sweden in 1967. It has gradually gained acceptance and become more widely available in the past 20 years, and has been used to treat 70,000 to 80,000 individuals to date. The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute is the only central Ohio facility which offers gamma knife surgery.
The gamma knife is not actually a "knife," in the sense of a surgical blade. It is a method of administering high-dose radiation with surgical precision to a very specific area of tissue within the cranial region while affecting an extremely small volume of surrounding healthy tissue. Gamma knife surgery delivers a beam of gamma radiation (photon particles) from 201 distinct Cobalt 60 sources . The individual beams do not harm healthy tissue as they travel through the brain, but as they arrive at the abnormal target tissue, the concentration of all 201 beams has the capacity to destroy that tissue's ability to survive.