History of Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife has successfully treated patients since 1968.

Since 1968, the Gamma Knife has treated more than 400,000 patients worldwide. Twenty percent of these patients were treated for vascular malformations and experienced impressive results: Within three years of treatment approximately 90 percent of these patients' abnormalities were cured.

For people suffering from Cushing's Disease, a disorder of the pituitary gland, the Gamma Knife has proven to be the single most-effective treatment option with a success rate of 80 percent. Clinical research is ongoing in treating Parkinson's Disease and other movement disorders, epilepsy and chronic pain associated with cancer.

Lars Leksell, a Swedish neurosurgeon, began developing this revolutionary technology in 1945. While researching how to treat brain disorders without surgery, Dr. Leksell developed a stereotactic frame that allowed placement of a probe or electrode at precise locations within the brain. By the 1950s Dr. Leksell had teamed with physicist Borje Larsson at the Karolinska Hospital and Institute in Stockholm. Together they researched ways to combine the stereotactic frame with exacting applications of radiation to pinpoint target masses. This new technique, named stereotactic radiosurgery, has the advantage of treating a lesion or arteriovenous malformation (AVM) with minimal effect to surrounding tissue.

The core of this advanced technology is the process of delivering up to 201 sources of radiation over a spherical area of the patient's head. While each beam consists of low-dose radiation having little effect on the brain tissue that it passes through, where the beams intersect - at the target - the dosage becomes a more powerful mechanism for ameliorating lesions and malformations such as AVMs. After years of experimentation and clinical trials, the Gamma Knife has been further refined and proven successful. To date, more than 150 units have been introduced throughout the world.