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Gamma Knife 101


What is Gamma Knife treatment?

A patient receiving Gamma Knife treatment.Gamma Knife treatment offers a safe, painless alternative for treating or controlling a wide array of conditions such as:

“Gamma Knife” surgery does not actually use knives or involve any incision. Our technology focuses 192 beams of gamma radiation at a brain tumor or abnormality. The treatment area receives radiation, but the beams safely avoid healthy brain tissue due to the precise accuracy of the Gamma Knife.

What are the benefits of Gamma Knife treatment?

Gamma Knife surgery is a safer, faster option compared to traditional surgery. The procedure typically lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours, the patient is conscious the whole time, and most patients feel nothing. Benefits include:

  • Less painful than traditional surgery
  • Safer procedure because of the lack of incisions
  • Less risk of infection, complications, or other side effects
  • Usually requires a single outpatient visit with local anesthesia

Who is a candidate for Gamma Knife treatment?

Patients who qualify for this surgery include patients who may be too frail for traditional surgery, or patients who have small tumors or tumors in hard-to-reach places. Patients may also benefits from this treatment if they have previously had:

  • Conventional brain surgery to treat tumors
  • Interventional neuroradiology (for treatment of vascular disease)
  • Conventional radiation therapy
  • Conventional chemotherapy

Who performs this procedure?

An experienced neurosurgeon performs this procedure and works closely with a team that includes:

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiation physicists
  • Trained nurses
  • Radiosurgery therapists

At Tufts Medical Center's Gamma Knife Center, the only such Center in Boston, we have a team of 6 Gamma Knife experts who work together to map out a personal plan for each patient to target the tumor. 

Our Gamma Knife Center is led by Julian Wu, MD, the Chief of the Division of Neuro-Oncology at Tufts Medical Center and Radiation Oncologist John Mignano, MD, PhD. Drs. Wu and Mignano are committed to pushing the boundaries of Gamma Knife technology to improve patient care. For example, their team pioneered a progressive therapeutic approach for treating brain cancer: Following traditional brain surgery with Gamma Knife treatment can reduce local re-occurrence of metastatic tumors from about 50 to 15 percent or less — without the troubling side effects of whole-brain radiation.

Dr. Wu has over 20 years of experience in radiosurgical techniques and is ranked among the top 1% of neurosurgeons in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Tufts Medical Center is proud to offer this pioneering treatment option. The Boston Gamma Knife Center at Tufts Medical Center was established in 1999 and has treated thousands of patients. If you think you could be a viable candidate for this procedure, talk to your physician to see if Gamma Knife radiosurgery is the right choice for you.