Patients arrive at the UCHealth University of Colorado - Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion surgical check-in entrance 90 minutes prior to application of the head frame. After checking in at the admission desk the patient then goes to surgical check-in. There the patient will be asked to put on a patient gown. Lab work and a possible EKG will be performed if not already done. The patient and/or family member will be asked to complete the admission paperwork. Initial patient assessment will be done and an IV will be started. The patient will then be transported to the Gamma Knife unit approximately 15-30 minutes prior to the beginning of the procedure.
The patient will be attached to a cardiac monitor and vital signs will be assessed frequently. Moderate intravenous medication will be given to help relax the patient.
A local anesthetic will be administered by the neurosurgeon into the sites on the head where the frame will be attached to their skull. The neurosurgeon will then tighten the fixation pins securing the head frame in place. This procedure generally takes less than 30 minutes.
Following application of the head frame, an MRI and /or CT scan will be done. A special localization box is rested on the head frame for these procedures. MRI’s and CT scans usually take less than 30 minutes. Head measurements are also taken.
Following these procedures the patient will have a waiting period while the neurosurgeon and the physicist collaborate to create a conformal treatment plan utilizing the images from the CT and/or MRI. The time interval varies on the complexity of each case (1/2 –2 hrs).
For the actual treatment the patient will lie down on the gamma knife couch. The head frame will be secured to an exact position so that treatment can begin. The time for each treatment varies but the patient and family member will be informed. The radiation treatment itself does not cause any discomfort.
Following Gamma Knife Radiosurgery the head frame will be removed and dressing may be applied. The patient will then be transported to the hospital for a few hours of observation. During that time the local anesthetic will wear off and the patient may experience a headache. We recommend the patient receive medication for headache shortly after arriving to the hospital floor. Prior to discharge we want to make sure that the patient is relatively comfortable and able to tolerate food without nausea.
Typically the total hospital stay lasts approximately 8-10 hrs. On occasion and based on the physicians orders, a patient may be admitted for an overnight stay. Learn more about recovery from Gamma Knife radiosurgery in this video featuring an experienced Gamma Knife nurse:
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