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UK Performs 1000th Gamma Knife Procedure

By Tammy Gay

 

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"With gamma knife treatment, we are able to aim radiation at a precise site in the brain, destroying an abnormality, yet not affecting the surrounding healthy tissue. Even after 1,000 procedures, it's still revolutionary."

-- Byron Young, M.D., chief of staff of UK Hospital, the Johnston-Wright Endowed Chair of Surgery, professor in the Department of Surgery, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, and associate dean for Clinical Affairs

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Sept. 24, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- Faculty and staff at University of Kentucky Hospital, Kentucky Neurosciences Institute at UK and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery completed the 1000th Gamma Knife procedure Wednesday, Sept. 18.

UK was the sixth site in the United States to do gamma knife treatment in 1991, and remains the only gamma knife program in Kentucky.

"Gamma knife radiosurgery is very effective, safe and precise," said Byron Young, M.D., chief of staff of UK Hospital, the Johnston-Wright Endowed Chair of Surgery, professor in the Department of Surgery, chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, and associate dean for Clinical Affairs.

"With gamma knife treatment, we are able to aim radiation at a precise site in the brain, destroying an abnormality, yet not affecting the surrounding healthy tissue. Even after 1,000 procedures, it's still revolutionary."

Gamma knife has been referred to as "brain surgery without a knife." It can be used to treat abnormalities of the brain's artery and vein systems (arteriovenous malformations), benign and malignant brain tumors and functional disorders. Since, gamma knife radiosurgery is performed without an incision, risks associated with conventional brain surgery are decreased.

A multidisciplinary team, comprised of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuro-radiologists, medical physicists, nurses and a patient service coordinator, treats patients.

Before the gamma knife treatment is started, patients with a brain tumor or functional disorder have an MRI. If they have an arteriovenous malformation, they may have an angiogram and either a CT or MRI scan to provide a picture of the abnormality. After the imaging studies, the medical team plans specific radiation doses.

Most patients do not realize that they are receiving treatment because they are unable to see or hear anything and do not experience any pain. The total treatment takes between 15 minutes to several hours, depending upon the size of the lesion and the prescribed amount of radiation.

Patients are able to return to their usual lifestyle the next day.


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