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Gamma Knife® Icon™ Procedure Provides Safe, Effective Radiation Therapy

Treating tumors, vascular abnormalities and more in the Lehigh Valley

Gamma Knife® Icon™ Procedure

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has long been committed to leadership in neuro-oncology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology. This commitment is evident in the ongoing management of the region’s only Gamma Knife® Icon™ unit, which allows LVHN’s experienced neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to treat a variety of benign and malignant conditions in a single outpatient procedure.

The Gamma Knife has been in place at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest since 2004, part of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. About 2,000 Gamma Knife procedures have been performed since the program started in 2004, and current volumes are around 150 cases annually. All physicians who use LVHN’s Gamma Knife have received special training and are certified in its use.

The gold standard

“Gamma Knife is the noninvasive ‘gold standard’ for treating both malignant and benign conditions of the brain and upper spine that are difficult to treat safely otherwise,” says neurosurgeon Stefano Camici, MD. “It is very effective compared to other modalities, and it is less time-consuming, offering significant advantages for metastases and other tumors.”

In development since the 1950s, the Gamma Knife came into use in clinical practice in the late 1980s. However, the Gamma Knife came into broader use in the 1990s, after integration with the computer. 

“Gamma Knife is the most precise form of radiation therapy for intracranial targets,” says Robert Prosnitz, MD, radiation oncologist with Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. “The precision afforded by the Gamma Knife unit allows us to treat lesions with minimal risk to surrounding normal structures.”

Among the most important advances in recent years has been the addition of the capability to treat most patients without the need for temporary attachment of a head frame to the skull for immobilization of the head during treatment. While only minimally invasive, placement of the head frame may add to patient stress and cause temporary discomfort.

Following the Gamma Knife Icon upgrade, most patients are treated using a custom-fit thermoplastic mask that holds the head securely in place during treatment. The addition of a CT scanner and an optical tracking system to the Gamma Knife makes the use of the frameless approach possible.

Treating a range of conditions

Conditions that can be treated with the Gamma Knife include acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas, pinealomas, craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas, chordomas, brain metastases, glial tumors, arteriovenous malformations and a variety of functional disorders including trigeminal neuralgia. LVHN also offers stereotactic radiosurgery with the Varian Edge linear accelerator for conditions not suitable for treatment with Gamma Knife. 

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To refer a patient or to request an appointment, call 888-402-LVHN.

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