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Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery, Radiation, and Side Effects

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is one of the most precise, powerful, and proven treatments for brain disorders. This painless procedure uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target tumors and lesions within the brain.

With no surgical incision required, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is especially useful when conventional surgical procedures pose a high risk for patients.

Pioneers in Gamma Knife Treatment

UPMC installed the first North American Gamma Knife in 1987 and subsequently introduced and pioneered each succeeding generation of technological improvement. Over its 30-year history at UPMC, Gamma Knife radiosurgery has proved effective for more than 15,000 patients with:

  • Benign or malignant brain tumors
  • Vascular malformations
  • Pain
  • Other functional problems

Today, the Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery at UPMC is the nation’s leading provider of Gamma Knife procedures, and is a major teaching center for neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical physicists from around the globe.

Gamma Knife Icon®

UPMC is the first hospital in the region and one of the first in the nation to use the most advanced generation of Gamma Knife radiosurgery - the Gamma Knife Icon. The system allows for a frame-based or frameless approach to radiosurgery, providing surgeons with more options when treating complex neurological conditions.

Icon's cutting-edge technology uses radiological images to target areas in the brain more precisely than ever, and it uses dosage control and motion management systems to ensure treatment is administered with extreme accuracy.

Conditions We Treat With Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Our experts in Gamma Knife radiosurgery are able to treat an array of brain disorders.

Brain Tumors

Results After Gamma Knife Treatment: Treatment damages the genetic material in the tumor's cells, resulting in their inability to reproduce. Following treatment, the cells die and the tumor may gradually shrink.

Arteriovenous Malformation

Results After Gamma Knife Treatment: Treatment causes blood vessels in the AVM to thicken and close.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Results After Gamma Knife Treatment: After treatment, a lesion gradually forms in the nerve and blocks the transmission of pain signals along the nerve.

Acoustic Neuroma

Results After Gamma Knife Treatment: Treatment can reduce the size or limit the growth of the tumor with little risk of permanent nerve damage.

Pituitary and Skull Base Tumors

Results After Gamma Knife Treatment: Treatment can shrink the tumor and lessen the disruption of pituitary hormone regulation.

How Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Works

  • Before the procedure, a team of our Gamma Knife experts creates a detailed of your brain, precisely pinpointing the tumor or lesion.
  • During the procedure, a focused, custom-designed dose of radiation targets only the diseased tissue, leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact.
  • Generally, patients only need one radiation treatment to begin experiencing gradual improvements in their condition, over the course of a few months.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Dr. L. Dade Lunsford discusses Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.

Meet John

John Lynch – Arteriovenous Malformation patient story 

When John Lynch was diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain disorder 25 years ago, he turned to groundbreaking Gamma Knife Radiosurgery at UPMC.

Read more »


Join us at an upcoming Aneurysm-AVM Support Group meeting.

View meeting location and dates>


Read the Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Issue of Neurosurgery News

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