The choice to undergo any type of brain tumor surgery is a very serious and complicated one. Choosing gamma knife treatment for benign or metastatic brain tumors means that you’ve chosen a safer alternative to more complicated brain tumor surgeries.
Gamma knife treatment is a non-invasive option in which no surgical instrument touches the body. Although radiation is used to stop tumor growth, the treatment is precisely targeted at specific tumors and leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected. Doses of gamma-ray radiation are used at a level considered to be safe for the patient while still strong enough to affect tumor growth.
Gamma knife surgery is a lower-risk alternative to other brain tumor treatment options such as microsurgery, chemotherapy, and other forms of radiosurgery. The procedure is used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, to stop tumor growth or regrowth following other treatment options, and as an acoustic neuroma surgery.
Because gamma knife treatments are non-invasive they don’t have typical surgical risks such as blood loss, side effects associated with anesthesia, and the incidence of pain. This means that treatments can be performed on an outpatient basis without the use of medication and don’t require more than a day’s time away from daily activities.
Tips to Prepare for Treatment
Gamma knife treatment doesn’t require the downtime or inconveniences that many other brain tumor treatments do, but you will need a little bit of extra help from friends and family, and it can also be a good idea to have a few extra supplies around the house too.
- Get a friend or family member to drive you to and from your treatment appointment. You may be at the clinic or treatment center for several hours, so you may need to arrange for different rides to and from the treatment session. A friend or family member may stay with you up until, but not during, the treatment session.
- Stock up on simple, easily digestible foods. You may not feel like eating after a brain tumor treatment, but it’s important to stay hydrated at a minimum and to try to eat something that’s nourishing. Vegetable or fruit juice, yogurt, smoothie, fruit juice popsicles, or even ice cream may all help you feel better after surgery. Try eating chicken noodle soup, rice, and steamed veggies, or your favorite comfort food for a meal that afternoon or evening.
- If you live alone, consider asking a close friend to stay in your home with you overnight following the surgery. Although complications aren’t common with gamma knife surgery, it can give you peace of mind to have someone around to help out just in case. If you have pets or children that need caring for, you may not feel up to these responsibilities the same day as a treatment and you should make arrangements for them as well.
- Set up a relaxing recovery area in advance where you can recline for the rest of the day after you return home. Arrange any items that you will want within arm’s reach in advance, so you don’t have to get up and down looking for things. Cook meals and prepare snacks in advance so you can or your caregiver can prepare food easily or on the spot. Keep blankets and pillows nearby for naps if you’re not recovering in your room.