High-Tech Gamma Knife Targets Brain Tumors

By Nadia Crow

Published 06/20 2014 09:59AM

Updated 06/20 2014 10:16AM

MURRAY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH)- Intermountain Medical Center surgeons performing a procedure on one of the most delicate parts of the body say one tool increases the chance of survival.  A high -tech gamma knife gives doctors an extra edge when operating on head or brain tumors.  In our continued partnership with Intermountain Medical Center, we take a closer look at the latest technology used to fight brain cancer.

“It allows us to finally focus X-ray beams to very specific spots in the brain,” said Dr. William Sause at Intermountain Medical Center

Intermountain Medical Center Dr. William Sause can use a high-tech gamma knife to then deliver a direct, powerful dose of radiation to cancerous or even benign tumors.

“If we see a tumor in the brain we can define that tumor very specifically with modern imaging. And then coupled with this X-ray delivery devices we can hit the tumor with a great deal of accuracy and not treat the normal brain around the tumor,” said Dr. Sause.

To get ready, technicians screw on a frame around the patient’s head.  Inside the machine, you’ll find cobalt.

“There are about 200 cobalt radioactive sources inside of it,” said Intermountain Medical Center Medical Physicist Tyler Vigh.

“Cobalt is a radioactive metal that is housed in the head of the device and as it decays it gives off a radiation beam,” said Dr. Sause.

After anesthesia, the procedure is painless and takes a half hour up to several hours.

“Sometimes they're tired and sleep through the procedure or just relax and listen to the music. They don't feel or hear anything,” said Vigh.

After brain tumor radiation, a patient can simply walk away from the hospital.  The next day, that person can continue their normal routine.  Even if that tumor isn’t completely removed…

“You can alleviate symptoms, prolong survival without causing symptoms from the treatment even though you don't totally cure the cancer,” said Dr. Sause.

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