Gamma Knife Icon offers patients a comfortable frameless treatment option
Here’s how it works and when it can (and can’t) be used.
Gamma Knife® Icon™ is considered the radiosurgery “gold standard” for treating cancerous and noncancerous brain conditions, but it also offers another important advantage: a frameless treatment option for improved patient comfort and flexibility.
“Many patients can now choose to wear a thermoplastic mesh face mask instead of a more rigid frame-based system secured directly to their head,” says Alyson McIntosh, MD, a radiation oncologist with Allentown Radiation Oncology Associates at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest. “The frameless system uses an infrared monitoring device to detect motion. If you move even a fraction of a millimeter, the Gamma Knife machine shuts off so radiation doesn’t target the wrong area.”
Some patients may still need to wear the frame depending on their condition and the length of their treatment. For instance, if you require treatment beyond the normal 30-60 minutes, the frame may be necessary to keep your head completely still for that long.
The frame also makes sense when your treatment area is near sensitive structures like the brain stem. This includes patients with trigeminal neuralgia, as well as some with acoustic neuromas and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). These conditions are non-cancerous, but they require a high degree of precision.
You and your doctor will talk in advance about whether frameless radiosurgery is a good option for you and how treatment can be tailored to make you more comfortable. Whichever type of frame you use, Gamma Knife Icon is non-invasive and always painless. If you need help relaxing during the procedure, staff can provide medication and even play your favorite music.
“Gamma Knife Icon allows physicians flexibility in tailoring treatments to individual patients,” McIntosh says. “In some cases the frame is better, but often going frameless makes more sense. Patients have assurance knowing their treatment is individualized for their specific medical needs and comfort.”
Learn more about Gamma Knife in our informational guide > Download Gamma Knife guide.