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The Advantages of Radiosurgery Over Craniotomy

Mar 3, 2008
Although there are a few different ways of delivering radiation to destroy tumors or slow their growth, they have found a great deal of success and preference among neurosurgeons, oncologists and doctors with subspecialties in brain tumor growths.

Radiosurgery is considered a relatively "recent" technique for treating brain tumors. Its main advantage is that it is non-invasive, which means that the flesh and skull do not need to be cut, sawed or bled in any way. This will be a brief discussion on how radiosurgery gives doctors and clinicians advantages over invasive brain surgery applications and some information about how it's applied.

When a patient undergoes radiosurgery for a tumor they generally use one of two techniques to expose the growth to radiation. The two main methods of application are either through a linear accelerator or a stereotactic frame. The applications of each are through such trade names as the Lineac (linear accelerator) or the Gamma Knife (stereotactic frame). Each uses subatomic particles that can be focused on the tumor while passing through the flesh invisibly, which gives the patient and hospital advantages such as:

- Reducing the cost of staff and tools that are needed for normal surgery techniques
- Less time in the hospital (often the patient can leave the same day)
- Smaller bill to the patient and insurance company
- Better avoidance of healthy tissue damage to healthy parts of the brain

Gamma Knife: The Gamma Ray Helmet Technique

The Gamma Knife is not actually a knife at all, as explained earlier. This is a technique that uses gamma rays to bombard with the intent to disable the growth of a tumor. Its biggest advantage is that it normally only needs to be administered once, no going back into the brain, no extensive time is needed like a scalpel and saw procedure.

The Gamma Knife is a form of radiosurgery that uses a helmet type of radiation applicator. Radioactive isotopes of cobalt within the helmet emit gamma rays. They can be fashioned onto the head of the patient and aimed at the tumor with superb accuracy. The gamma wave forms are positioned so that they pass through all the healthy tissue harmless as can be and converge upon the tumor in an attempt to disable the tumor's ability to subdivide and perpetuate its destructive behavior of branching out.

The Gamma ray is one of many particles used in radiotherapy; protons, neutrons and x-rays are also used in various techniques.
About the Author
Art Gib is a writer for Vantage Oncology (http://www.vantageoncology.com) who has created a network of radiosurgery oncology centers and doctors within in the U.S. They also work as a joint venturing group to help construct and maintain radiation therapy clinics.
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