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Robotic gamma knife "increases accuracy and speed" of brain surgery

4 February, 2002

Robotic Gamma Knife surgery, commonly referred to as "bloodless brain surgery", provides faster and more accurate surgery than conventional brain surgery, according to a study in the February issue of the journal Neurosurgery.

The gamma knife delivers a single high dose of radiation at targets of just several millimeters up to 3 centimeters in diameter. Because the beam focuses precisely on the offending tissues, effects on surrounding brain tissue are minimised. The procedure is used to treat brain tumours or conditions such as epilepsy.

Study author Dr Douglas Kondziolka, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said:

"We found the accuracy of the robotic system allows us to use greater numbers of smaller and narrower beams of radiation. This results in steeper falloffs of the radiation outside the target area, resulting in a more conformal dose plan and a potentially better outcome for the patient."

Surgery using the gamma knife is safer than many existing procedures because patients need not undergo risky, open-skull procedures and adult patients do not require general anesthesia. It causes few side effects, and patients usually leave the hospital within 24 hours.