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Vidant adds advanced Gamma Knife machine to brain surgery arsenal

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Jasmin Jo, a neuro-oncoclogist talks about a radiosurgery device with micro-radiosurgery capabilities inside of the Gamma Knife Center on Monday.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Vidant Medical Center has invested $2 million in a high-tech machine to treat brain disorders.

Officials unveiled the hospital’s new Gamma Knife machine on Monday afternoon. 

The Leksell Gamma Knife ICON machine will join three other similar machines to perform stereotactic radiosurgery, one of the most advanced treatments for brain disorders. The machine according to its website, features best-in-class radiation protection and comfort for patients and staff. It also features a built in CT scanner. 

According to a fact sheet distributed at the event, stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive procedure that delivers a single, high dose of radiation (192 narrow beams) to a very small target without making an incision and without affecting healthy surrounding tissue. It works by destroying cells so that they do not grow, shrinking the size of a lesion or tumor over time.

Vidant Medical Center is one of two Gamma Knife treatment centers in North Carolina, the fact sheet stated. Since 2005, the hospital has been offering alternatives to traditional brain surgery and whole-brain radiation therapy. Vidant doctors have produced over 1,500 Gamma Knife procedures to date.  

About 70,000 patients undergo Gamma Knife procedures each year at hundreds of hospitals and clinics around the world, the fact sheet said.

Dr. Stuart Lee, medical director of the Gamma Knife Center at Vidant said that the treatments allow brain surgeries to be done as outpatient procedures and that recovery time is greatly reduced as compared to the time needed to recover from traditional brain surgery.  

“I’ve had a patient drive a bulldozer the next day after his Gamma Knife treatment,” Lee said. “Most of our treatments are done as outpatient so a conventional brain surgery you’re in the ICU for two or three days and you’re in the hospital two or three more days at best. These patients almost always go home the same day.”

Other advantages to Gamma Knife, according to Vidant officials, is that it allows doctors to reach and treat a large number of tumors in a single session.  The Gamma Knife also is less toxic and patients can tolerate the procedure better.  Recovery time also is lessened and the cost is less than traditional radiation therapy and microsurgery.  

Gamma Knife treatment is performed by a team of medical professionals, including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, specially trained nurses and others as needed. 

The treatment also be used when a brain lesion cannot be reached by standard surgery, or when a patient isn't suited for traditional open-brain surgery, Vidant officials said.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.