Stereotactic Gamma Ray Surgery For Benign Intracranial Tumors

What you should know

Stereotactic gamma ray surgery is used to treat tumors inside your head that are benign (not cancer). Beams of radiation kill the tumor cells. Normal tissues near the tumor get little or no radiation. Intracranial tumors can grow anywhere in your head. Benign tumor cells do not spread to other areas of your body.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Risks

  • Radiation kills tumor cells but can also damage other normal cells in your head. Your brain, eyes, blood vessels, or nerves may get damaged during gamma ray surgery. You may have headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, or problems with your vision or memory. Areas that make hormones may get damaged, and you may need medicines to replace these hormones. There is also a chance that your tumor may not completely shrink or that it may come back. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.

  • Without treatment, benign intracranial tumors may grow bigger and damage other tissues around them. The blood or nerve supply to nearby structures may be cut off. If this happens, you may have problems seeing, moving, speaking, breathing, or thinking clearly. This may lead to other serious medical problems, such as blindness, seizures, or stroke.

Getting Ready

The week before your treatment:

  • Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your treatment. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • You may need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to check the location, shape, and size of your tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your treatment:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your treatment:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

Treatment

What will happen:

  • You will be placed on a table that can be moved to different positions. Shields that block radiation from reaching other parts of your body are put over you. A head frame will be used to hold your head very still during the treatment. You may get medicine to numb the area where the frame will be placed. The frame will be secured with pins.

  • The table you are lying on will be moved inside the treatment hood. MRI or CT scans are used to help point the beams directly at your tumor. Your caregiver will set the shape of the beams and the amount of radiation your tumor will get. The beams will pass through your skull and brain and reach your tumor. You will need to lie still and relax during the treatment. After the treatment, your table will be moved out of the hood. The head frame and helmet will be removed.

After your treatment:

You will be taken to a room where caregivers will watch you closely for problems. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. Later, you will be taken to your hospital room, or you may be able to go home.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You have a fever.

  • You cannot make it to your treatment on time.

  • You have questions or concerns about your stereotactic gamma ray surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You had a seizure.

  • You suddenly have problems thinking and remembering things.

  • You have sudden shortness of breath or chest pain.

  • Your arms or legs suddenly get weak, or you lose feeling in them.

  • Your headaches, seizures, or other symptoms get worse.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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