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Stereotactic Gamma Ray Surgery for Benign Intracranial Tumors

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

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

HOW TO PREPARE:

The week before 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 x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to check the location, shape, and size of the tumor.

The night before surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers 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.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

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 will be put over you. A head frame will be used to hold your head 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 surgeon 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 surgery:

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

CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your 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 lose feeling.
  • Your headaches, seizures, or other symptoms get worse.

Risks

Radiation kills tumor cells but can also damage other normal cells. 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.

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.

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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.

Further information

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