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Neurosciences and Behavioral Health Center

How Gamma Knife Works

Radiosurgery: How It Works

Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers radiation in a more accurate and precise fashion than conventional radiation therapy. It creates high-energy beams of radiation strong enough to inactivate even some of the most aggressive tumors.

Gamma Knife also reduces the risk of damage to healthy areas of the brain; we often recommend it for brain tumors in hard-to-reach places. Watch this video to see what happens during the Gamma Knife procedure.

Before, During and After the Procedure

The procedure is simple and painless.

1. Attaching the Head Frame

We attach a mesh covering or frame to prevent your head from moving so that the neurosurgeon can accurately target the treatment.

2. Imaging

We determine the exact size, shape and position of the target in your brain, using either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or angiography.

3. Treatment Planning

Once imaging has been completed, your doctor develops a precise treatment plan. During this time, you can rest. No two treatment plans are alike; every patient’s plan is designed to address the patient’s specific medical condition. The doctor, sometimes with another team specialist, enters the imaging data and other information into a computer and calculates how the treatment should be performed.

4. Treatment

Once your treatment plan is completed, the actual treatment can start:

  • You will lie down on the treatment couch.
  • The couch will move into the dome section of the unit.
  • The team will monitor the procedure at all times.
  • The treatment will last anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size and shape of the target.

During the treatment, you can:

  • Stay awake
  • Talk to the doctor or nurse
  • Listen to music

5. After the Treatment

If you had an angiogram, you might have to lie quietly for several more hours. 

You may stay overnight for observation or return home immediately. However, you should be able to return to your normal routines in a day or so.

6. Follow-Up

The effects of your treatment will occur over time — a period of weeks or months. We may evaluate your progress with follow-up MRI, CT or angiography images.


Manage your healthcare online with MyChart.

Treatment Location

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