Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 3.26.20 PMTo date more than 800,000 patients worldwide have undergone Leksell Gamma Knife surgery for brain tumors, vascular disorders, trigeminal neuralgia and acoustic neuroma. This fast, painless stereotactic radiosurgery, that requires no anesthesia or recovery, has shown superior clinical outcomes over the last 40 years. More than 2,500 peer-reviewed articles have been published regarding the effectiveness of Gamma Knife procedures, considered the gold standard in radiosurgery.

With pinpoint accuracy, the Gamma Knife can deliver a single high dose of radiation from multiple directions at intracranial and extracranial tumors and lesions, sparing vascular and neural structures outside the target area. Often requiring only one outpatient treatment, Gamma Knife procedures mean less physical strain on the patient, and less financial strain on the healthcare system.

On June 13, 2013, the Alexian Brothers Neurosciences Institute hosted a blessing and open house to showcase the new PERFEXION Gamma Knife® installed at the Illinois Gamma Knife Center on the campus of Alexian Brothers Medical Center. PERFEXION represents the latest generation in minimally invasive cranial radiosurgery. Elekta, PERFEXION’s manufacturer, reports “This new integrated system, with its revolutionary design, provides full cranial reach.

[It] is built to deliver outstanding patient and staff comfort and better dosimetry performance than any other radiosurgical system.”

Since its opening in 2005, the Illinois Gamma Knife Center has treated approximately 1,500 patients. Patrick Sweeney, M.D., Radiation Oncologist, says that PERFEXION now offers two distinct advantages to patients and physicians over previous generations.

First, the system enables greater access anywhere in the head, including the skull base and upper spine, allowing patients to lie comfortably for the procedure. Second, it allows for treatment of more than one target in the same session.

Diagnostic imaging, treatment planning and dose delivery are digitally integrated to allow for seamless information flow. When a patient arrives for the procedure, he/she is placed in a stereotactic head frame. Imaging is then performed and sent electronically to the treatment planning team. Gamma Knife uses 3-D planning to form the radiation dose to the exact size and shape of the affected area, allowing for full customization of treatment.

Once the plan is complete, the patient lies on the “couch”, the moveable table that holds the frame and the patient’s head motionless in a large metal cylinder-type helmet. Radiation then travels through 192 holes in the helmet sending the optimal radiation dose from cobalt-60 sources to the specified target.

Enhanced safety features mean that PERFEXION offers a radiological accuracy of .50 mm while the system confirms the treatment target 10 times per second. Dr. Bovis reports that 15 times less radiation is given to the rest of the body—the thyroid, chest and gonads. Radiation shielding is up to 100 times better than other radiological devices. As a result, the system is safe for use with children and women of childbearing age.

Compared to previous systems, PERFEXION reduces per patient time by up to two hours, and treatment planning is performed twice as fast. “Patients are generally very happy since it saves them from an open neurosurgical procedure and they can return to normal activity the next day,” says Dr. Sweeney.

The procedure is covered by most insurance and often costs 25-30% less than traditional neurosurgery. The Illinois Gamma Knife Center is home to Dr. Shaun O’Leary along with many other expert neurosurgeons, oncologists and nurses to deliver exceptional patient-centered multidisciplinary care.