While meningiomas are benign tumors that often don’t cause symptoms, many people choose to seek treatment instead of active surveillance, especially if their meningioma tumor shows signs of growth. In those cases, Gamma Knife radiosurgery may be the best treatment. During this type of stereotactic radiosurgery, surgeons target the tumor with beams of radiation from outside the body to decrease the blood supply, which starves the tumor and usually stops growth — and may even shrink the tumor. Gamma Knife treatment successfully treats 90 to 95 percent of meningioma patients, typically with just one treatment.
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Gamma Knife surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) — which despite its name, isn’t actually a form of surgery, but rather the precisely targeted delivery of radiation beams — was developed specifically to treat brain disorders. It has been used successfully on about 50,000 patients around the world since its first introduction in 1967.
Gamma Knife is a noninvasive method for treating meningiomas, as well as acoustic neuromas, trigeminal neuralgia, and metastatic brain tumors. The specialized equipment delivers a single, high dose of irradiation directly to the tumor through the skull. Gamma Knife is often the preferred method of treatment for patients with many types of brain disorders because of its extreme accuracy, efficiency, therapeutic response, minimal recovery time — and there is no risk of bleeding and potential infections. In addition, Gamma Knife’s precise delivery means that only the targeted area of the brain receives radiation, while surrounding healthy tissue remains intact.
Today, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is performed at hundreds of hospitals and clinics worldwide. This unique procedure has an impressive scientific track record with thousands of peer-reviewed medical articles and the greatest clinical acceptance rate of any noninvasive treatment for brain disorders.
In Gamma Knife radiosurgery for a meningioma, a neurosurgeon uses computer imagery to direct a precisely focused beam of high-dose radiation to the benign tumor. The radiation interferes with cell reproduction and produces changes within the blood vessels that feed the tumor, which decreases the blood supply over time, virtually starving it.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is one of the most effective treatments for patients who have been diagnosed with a meningioma. It is particularly useful when meningioma tumors are located around vital structures in the brain, making surgery difficult or risky. Traditionally, tumors 3-4 centimeters in size respond best to Gamma Knife treatment.
For patients with a meningioma, radiosurgery is the least invasive treatment option, often making it the best choice for patients with medical conditions that make traditional surgery risky.
Gamma Knife surgery successfully treats 90 to 95 percent of meningioma cases and is particularly useful for meningiomas that involve vital structures in the brain. The majority of meningiomas 3 to 4 centimeters and smaller can be treated with Gamma Knife, so you should consult with a neurosurgeon about whether you’re a candidate for this treatment option. The most relevant research studies include:
Zada, G.; Pagnini, P.G.; Yu, C.; Erickson, K.T.; Hirschbein, J.; Zelman, V.; Apuzzo, M.L. Long-term outcomes and patterns of tumor progression after Gamma Knife radiosurgery for benign meningiomas. Neurosurgery. August 2010.
Starke, R.M.; Nguyen, J.H.; Reames, D.L.; Rainey, J.; Sheehan, J.P. Gamma Knife radiosurgery of meningiomas involving the foramen magnum. Journal of Craniovertebral Junction & Spine. January-June 2010.
Radiosurgery with Gamma Knife, which is actually not surgery but a noninvasive procedure using radiation, is one of the most effective treatments for patients who have been diagnosed with meningioma, a type of benign noncancerous brain tumor. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is particularly useful when meningioma tumors are located around vital structures in the brain, making surgery difficult or risky. Gamma Knife successfully treats 90 to 95 percent of meningioma brain tumors. Traditionally, tumors that are 3-4 centimeters respond best to Gamma Knife treatment.
Benefits of Gamma Knife treatment for meningiomas include:
Gamma Knife offers many benefits for treating meningioma tumors and is a more effective and safer option than surgery in the following circumstances:
As always, treatment decisions take into account:
For some elderly patients, a “cautious observation” approach that monitors tumor growth over time with recurrent scans may be the best approach.
If you’re considering Gamma Knife treatment for your meningioma, the neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists at Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center will help evaluate if Gamma Knife radiosurgery is right for you based on your medical history.
Once you contact our office, most patients are able to meet with a Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife neurosurgeon within two or three weeks for an initial consultation. Patients who are candidates for Gamma Knife surgery for meningiomas will undergo pre-procedure imaging. This step helps our neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists determine precisely where to deliver the beam of high-dose radiation during the procedure, which usually takes less than an hour. The night prior to the procedure, patients should refrain from eating or drink anything after midnight.
During radiosurgery for meningiomas:
After the Gamma Knife procedure for meningioma, the surgical team will remove the head frame and apply sterile dressing to the attachment points. The patient will then be transported to the hospital for a few hours of observation. As the local anesthetic used during frame placement wears off, patients may experience a headache, so we recommend preventive pain medication for patients shortly after they arrive at the hospital.
After Gamma Knife treatment for meningiomas, most patients stay in the hospital for eight to 10 hours. Before being discharged, the care team will ensure that the patient can tolerate food without experiencing nausea and is generally comfortable about returning home. In some cases, based on physician’s orders, patients are admitted for an overnight stay.
Learn more about recovery from Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningiomas in this video featuring an experienced Gamma Knife nurse.
After Gamma Knife surgery for meningiomas, most patients can return to normal activities almost immediately — and many return to work the day after surgery. Based on your individual experience, your physician will let you know how many follow-up visits are needed.
As the region’s most experienced stereotactic radiosurgery center, the Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center has treated more than 5,300 patients with Gamma Knife. Since 1993, when the team performed Rocky Mountain West’s first-ever Gamma Knife procedure, the center has provided Gamma Knife treatment for meningioma tumors and more than 30 other types of brain conditions.
With 200 combined years of experience treating neurological disorders, our neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists have earned a reputation as experienced leaders in employing Gamma Knife technology. The talented team provides treatment for benign meningiomas and cancerous tumors, especially metastatic melanoma and acoustic neuromas — and they are nationally recognized for their expertise in treating the facial pain known as trigeminal neuralgia.
Radiosurgery with Gamma Knife for meningiomas is covered by most insurance providers. If you need assistance understanding your coverage or coordinating preauthorizations, our knowledgeable staff is here to help.
For more information about Gamma Knife treatment for meningiomas or if you’d like to talk with a Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center nurse, call 303-366-0099 or fill out our online form.