ICON: New Gamma Knife


ATLANTA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Surgeons have used gamma knife technology for years during delicate brain surgeries. It’s not a knife at all, but a focused beam of radiation that carries less risk of damaging nearby tissue. A new version of the knife is extending the therapy to patients who have had very few options, until now.

Joe Garrett and his wife, Cindy, built this backyard sanctuary to unwind and bird watch.

Until recently, even that simple pastime was complicated.

Joe explained, “I would look up in the air, and things didn’t seem right. So I would close my left eye.”

Cindy told Ivanhoe, “I kept saying go get your eyes checked. Get ‘em checked. I think you need Lasik surgery again.”

Instead, doctors discovered Joe had a brain tumor. Surgery was not an option. The tumor was benign, but was wrapped around his optic nerve.

Joe said, “If it continued to grow it would cause blindness. It also affected other nerves. I could lose facial control.”

Shannon Kahn, M.D., is a radiation oncologist at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Kahn said just one year ago, the most cutting-edge treatments available would not have worked on Joe.

Dr. Kahn detailed, “Patients who have tumors in areas like the brain stem or next to the nerves that control vision, they use to not be candidates for gamma knife.”

The gamma knife allows technicians to deliver a focused, high dose of radiation. The newly updated Icon is even more accurate. Doctors could treat Joe’s tumor, without damaging his vision.

“Instead of doing his treatment over one session we divided it up over five, but he did extraordinarily well,” said Dr. Kahn.

Joe’s vision improved almost immediately. While a portion of the tumor remains, doctors say it will be controlled for the rest of his life.

In addition to the higher degree of accuracy during treatment, the Icon uses a mask, rather than a frame to track the patient’s tumor. A handful of research hospitals across the United States are currently using the Icon.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.




REPORT:       MB #4262


BACKGROUND: A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain or close to your brain. Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). But even the benign ones can cause a lot of damage. Tumors that are wrapped around the optic nerve can cause blindness and affect other nerves in the face. This tumor is called Optic nerve melanocytoma and is made up of melanocytes and melanin and is usually benign. It grows extremely slowly and any symptoms are due to localized pressure rather than malignant infiltration. They are usually managed by watchful waiting, but sometimes need to be removed. This is difficult because surgery is not an option if the tumor is wrapped around the optic nerve. (Source: https://patient.info/doctor/eye-and-optic-nerve-tumours)

TREATMENT: When surgery cannot be conducted, there is another new option called Gamma Knife technology. Despite its name, Gamma Knife is not a knife at all. With a Gamma Knife procedure, there is no incision, no blood and virtually no pain. Gamma Knife refers to the name of the machine that is used to treat tumors. The Gamma Knife machine uses 201 targeted beams of radiation to destroy tumors with excellent precision. Healthy tissue surrounding tumors is spared. The procedure is so accurate that it is considered to be as good as surgery, or better. Radiation can be used as a stand-alone treatment, and often it is the only treatment needed. Doctors can also use radiation before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to stop the growth of remaining cancer cells.
(Source: http://radiationoncology.emory.edu/patients/treatments/gamma-knife.html)

ELEKTA: The Gamma Knife Icon is produced by Elekta, a leading supplier of advanced and innovative radiation oncology and neurosurgery systems. The company develops sophisticated, state-of-the-art tools and treatment planning systems for radiation therapy, radiosurgery and brachytherapy, as well as workflow enhancing software systems across the spectrum of cancer care. Today, Elekta solutions in oncology and neurosurgery are used in over 6,000 hospitals worldwide. Elekta employs around 3,800 employees globally and the corporate headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden.(Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/first-patient-in-us-treated-with-elektas-leksell-gamma-knife-icon-571043461.html)


Mary Beth Spence



If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Shannon Kahn, M.D.

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