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Gamma Knife Surgery for Malignant Glioma

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about gamma knife surgery?

Gamma knife surgery for malignant glioma uses radiation to remove a tumor in your brain.

How do I prepare for gamma knife surgery?

  • Your surgeon will talk to you about how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home after surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • You may need blood tests before surgery. You may also need a CT scan, MRI, chest x-ray, or ECG.

What will happen during gamma knife surgery?

  • Your healthcare provider will inject local anesthesia in the areas of your head where the head frame will be placed. The head frame will be attached to a helmet placed over your head.
  • When your surgery starts, the bed you are lying on will be moved inside the treatment hood. Your healthcare provider will use the computer to aim beams of radiation into the holes of the helmet. These beams will pass through your skull and brain until they reach your tumor. A computer will show pictures of your brain to your healthcare provider.

What should I expect after gamma knife surgery?

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

  • You will be helped to walk around after surgery. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy.
  • Medicines may be given to relieve pain or nausea. You may also need medicines to prevent seizures or a bacterial infection. Medicines may be given to decrease swelling in your brain. This may help increase blood flow to your brain.

What are the risks of gamma knife surgery?

You may need open brain surgery if problems occur during gamma knife surgery. Your brain, eyes, bones, blood vessels, or nerves may get damaged during surgery. Radiation may cause nausea, vomiting, skin or blood problems, or seizures. Surgery may not completely remove your tumor, or your tumor may come back. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.