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Gamma Knife

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven's Department of Radiation Oncology, along with the Department of Neurosurgery, is the sole provider of Gamma Knife services in Connecticut. Our staff has the most experience in the state treating patients with radiosurgery.

Gamma Knife offers an effective, non-invasive alternative to traditional brain surgery and is exclusively designed for the treatment of malignant and benign brain tumors, vascular abnormalities of the brain, head and skull base tumors, and trigeminal neuralgia.

Why Choose Gamma Knife at Smilow Cancer Hospital

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven's Gamma Knife services is the only stereotactic radio surgical facility in Connecticut dedicated to treating head and skull base disorders with precisely focused external radiation. In use for more than 50 years, Gamma Knife has been used to treat more than 500,000 patients worldwide. It is regarded as the "gold standard" for intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery. At Yale New Haven, more than 5,000 patients have been treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Find out more about Gamma Knife services at Smilow Cancer Hospital

Extreme Accuracy with Minimal Side Effects

Gamma Knife is an effective, non-invasive alternative to traditional brain surgery. It uses gamma radiation emitted from 192 radioactive sources to direct focused radiation to specific targets in the brain. It can destroy a brain tumor, a blood vessel abnormality such as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), or other abnormalities within or adjacent to brain tissue with extreme accuracy.

Since each individual beam of radiation is a relatively low intensity, the brain surrounding the abnormal tissue is virtually unaffected. The full dose of radiation is focused only where the 192 beams intersect. Side effects are rare and usually temporary and because the surgery is "bloodless," the risks of postoperative complications, such as infection and hemorrhage, are minimized.

Typically performed in a single outpatient treatment session without general anesthesia, this technique allows patients to receive treatments while avoiding incision, scarring and long hospital stays while minimizing surgical complications. Patients experience minimal pain and, in most cases, can resume their pre-treatment activities including ongoing systemic therapy the day after treatment. Gamma Knife is an excellent option for patients who are not good candidates for open surgery.

Learn more about Gamma Knife radiosurgery

Smilow Cancer Hospital is pleased to offer Gamma Knife Icon, the most advanced Gamma Knife technology. With Gamma Knife Icon, patients can receive the most focused radiation treatments, compared with other radiosurgery systems, from technology specifically designed to deliver the fastest and most comfortable treatment for metastases in the brain, head and neck.

Conditions We Treat

Gamma Knife offers excellent results for many conditions:

  • Metastatic brain tumors - Gamma Knife is as effective as surgery in controlling metastatic lesions. Control rates, on average, are 90 percent at one-year follow-up and 80 percent at two-year follow-up. However, Gamma Knife has the added benefit of being able to treat surgically inaccessible lesions and multiple lesions in one sitting. Unlike whole brain radiation therapy, it can also be used multiple times, if necessary, and it is compatible with ongoing chemotherapy. Learn more at Yale Brain Tumor Center.
  • Benign brain tumors such as meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas and craniopharyngiomas - Compared to surgery, which can result in up to 20 to 40 percent recurrence rate at 10-year follow-up, radiosurgery controls tumors in more than 90 percent of cases at 10-year follow-up.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia - Approximately two-thirds of patients become pain free and an additional 20 percent achieve significant pain relief after one year. Fifty percent of patients continue to have pain relief after five years.
  • Vascular disorders - In conjunction with Yale New Haven Hospital Heart & Vascular Center, Gamma Knife can be used to treat vascular disorders such as arteriovenous malformations.

Gamma Knife physicians collaborate with specialists in many diseases, including melanoma; lung cancer; breast cancer; gastrointestinal cancers such as colon cancer and esophageal cancer; genito-urinary cancers such as renal cell and prostate cancer; neurology and neurosurgery, hematology and pediatric surgery, to prepare the most effective treatment plans for our patients.

Am I Eligible?

Please speak with your physician and request a referral to Gamma Knife services at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Your medical records and previous imaging studies must first be evaluated by our specialist teams of neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists.

Ask your physician to contact the Department of Radiation Oncology at Smilow Cancer Hospital for more information or a referral: 203-200-2020.