Originally created 07/09/98

On the cutting edge



The tiny holes that line the helmet are actually bombsights, guiding invisible rays of radiation that pass harmlessly through the brain until all 201 beams intersect on the tumor and deliver a devastating dose.

It is brain surgery without opening the skull, brain surgery in which the patient is up and on the way home hours later. The machine that performs this remarkable procedure is called a gamma knife, and the Medical College of Georgia is going to be the second hospital in Georgia to get one. Only about 38 centers in the country have the nearly $3 million machine, which can be used to treat not only tumors but epileptic seizures, chronic pain, malformed blood vessels and other problems inside the skull, said neurosurgeon Joseph Smith, director of stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at MCG.

For centers seeing a large number of these patients, "this is really essential to a comprehensive treatment program," Dr. Smith said.

The machine works by delivering small beams of radiation from a constant cobalt 60 source through 201 ports in a helmet worn by the patient into one carefully targeted area in the head. Those numerous pathways are the advantage over standard radiation therapy, said W. Chris Sheils, chief of radiation oncology at MCG.

It is brain surgery without opening the skull, brain surgery in which the patient is up and on the way home hours later. The machine that performs this remarkable procedure is called a gamma knife, and the Medical College of Georgia is going to be the second hospital in Georgia to get one. Only about 38 centers in the country have the nearly $3 million machine, which can be used to treat not only tumors but epileptic seizures, chronic pain, malformed blood vessels and other problems inside the skull, said neurosurgeon Joseph Smith, director of stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at MCG.

For centers seeing a large number of these patients, "this is really essential to a comprehensive treatment program," Dr. Smith said.

The machine works by delivering small beams of radiation from a constant cobalt 60 source through 201 ports in a helmet worn by the patient into one carefully targeted area in the head. Those numerous pathways are the advantage over standard radiation therapy, said W. Chris Sheils, chief of radiation oncology at MCG.

Gamma Knife It is brain surgery without opening the skull, brain surgery in which the patient is up and on the way home hours later. The machine that performs this remarkable procedure is called a gamma knife, and the Medical College of Georgia is going to be the second hospital in Georgia to get one. Only about 38 centers in the country have the nearly $3 million machine, which can be used to treat not only tumors but epileptic seizures, chronic pain, malformed blood vessels and other problems inside the skull, said neurosurgeon Joseph Smith, director of stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at MCG.

For centers seeing a large number of these patients, "this is really essential to a comprehensive treatment program," Dr. Smith said.

The machine works by delivering small beams of radiation from a constant cobalt 60 source through 201 ports in a helmet worn by the patient into one carefully targeted area in the head. Those numerous pathways are the advantage over standard radiation therapy, said W. Chris Sheils, chief of radiation oncology at MCG.