Gamma Knife - FAQs
Terri Biggins, R.N., B.S.N., is the dedicated patient care coordinator for the Gamma Knife Center. Terri works closely with patients and their families throughout the process of evaluation, treatment and follow-up for Gamma Knife.
Will I experience any pain during the procedure?
The only time mild discomfort is felt is during the frame placement. Local anesthetic is injected into 4 sites (2 on forehead, 2 back of head). Pressure or squeezing sensation may be felt during frame application, but that feeling goes away within a few minutes. During the actual Gamma Knife procedure you will not experience any sensation that anything is happening.
Will I experience hair loss?
No shaving of hair is necessary for this procedure. If a lesion is superficial (close to the scalp), a minimal amount of hair may be lost within a few weeks.
How soon can I resume my everyday routines?
This is entirely up to you. The majority of patients return to routine activities within a day or two.
How long does it take to deliver the actual radiation?
The treatment time depends on the size and complexity of the individual patient's circumstance. Each plan is custom tailored to that individual. The average treatment time is one hour.
How long will I be in the hospital?
The entire procedure from start to finish may take 4-6 hours. You will spend some time waiting while testing and planning of your procedure is being completed. We invite your family members to visit with you during this stage. Most patients are discharged within an hour or two of completing the procedure. Occasionally an overnight stay is necessary.
What side effects might I experience?
Immediately following the procedure you may experience discomfort after removal of the head frame. Some nausea is possible but rare. Scalp numbness and tenderness from the pins may be possible for a few days to a few weeks. Occasionally steroid medication is prescribed for swelling at the treatment site in the brain.
What information should I send or bring to the consultation?
Generally speaking, any radiology imaging pertinent to your diagnosis (MRI, CT, or angiograms ) should be brought for the consultation. Films or CD's are acceptable. Include any reports (radiology, pathology, treatments including surgeries, chemotherapy, or radiation, pertinent doctors notes, list of medications, allergies, etc).
Health insurance information and possibly a referral will be needed at the time of consultation. Ask your primary care physician if a referral is necessary. It's never too early to present a Living Will to your medical staff so bring along if you have one.
Is Gamma Knife covered by insurance?
Yes, most major insurance companies cover this procedure.