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Gamma Knife Technology

ESCAMBIA COUNTY   --  May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month.
And for the first time -- Gamma Knife Technology that shrinks or destroys head masses -- is available in our area.

The first US Fellowship trained Gamma Knife surgeon practices in Pensacola.
Neurosurgeon Michael Goodman has spent the last four years working to get a Gamma Knife on the gulfcoast.   In March he began treating patients at Sacred Heart Hospital.
It's not a knife at all.  It's a device that delivers a single high dose of precision radiation to a target like a tumor.

Goodman says it's less risky than traditional - "open skull" brain surgery.
(("Very taxing on the body, so this gives us an opportunity to treat someone that might have chosen not to have traditional surgery for a mass."))
Goodman says the intense radiation beam damages the genetic material in the tumors' cells and prevents them from reproducing...The mass becomes debris and is absorbed by the body.

(("This offers an entirely different treatment modality that's not invasive for patients with a variety of intracranial lesions."))
Like eye and tongue cancers, base of spine tumors -- lesions in the brain and head.
Goodman says the Gamma Knife is used on primary brain tumors, malignant and benign ones and cancerous ones that have spread from the breast, lungs or other areas.

Neurosurgery Nurse April Hile says she pursued her job with Goodman in hopes to work with the Gamma Knife Technology.

Since this ones been installed -- they've treated twenty patients with it.
Hile fits them with this lightweight halo for the session.  She says other than that, it's a painless, one time procedure.

(("The number one thing I like to tell my patients is that it's the easiest brain surgery they'll ever have."))
Goodman says Gamma Knife Treatment is safer than whole brain radiation.
(("Much more effective alternative.  It spares the majority of the brain from a significant radiation dose so the patients avoid the side effects that come only with that like memory loss and feelings of fatigue."))
Because of its design -- the Gamma Knife can only be used on the head.
Goodman says sometimes it takes weeks or even months to tell if the treatment worked The effectiveness is monitored by regular MRI scans.

For more on the Gamma Knife Center at Sacred Heart head to the Health Watch link on our website weartv.com