Melbourne: In what`s claimed to be
probably the first scalpel-free surgery, Australian scientists
have used a `gamma knife` -- a non-invasive neurosurgical tool
-- to treat a brain cancer patient.
An international team has carried out the treatment at
Macquarie University Hospital in Sydney, using the Gamma Knife
which is a non-invasive neurosurgical tool for treating brain
cancer and a range of other brain-related disorders.
Despite its name, it is not a cutting implement and
there is no blood or incision involved in treatment. Instead,
some 200 radiation beams from cobalt-60 sources converge with
high accuracy on the target inside the brain.
Each individual beam has low intensity and therefore
does not affect the tissue through which it passes on its way
to the target. The beams converge in an isocentre where the
cumulative radiation intensity becomes extremely high.
Neurosurgeon Dr John Fuller, who treated the
first patient in Australia with the device, said gamma knife
treatment is very different to traditional neurosurgery.
"Although our first patient had tumours in multiple
parts of his brain, we only needed to do one operation lasting
an hour or so, no scalpel was used, the patient was awake
throughout the entire procedure and only received a local
anaesthetic, and he went home last night having been treated
in an out-patient setting," he said.
Dr Fuller said the low impact nature of the treatment
on the patient has a range of the flow-on benefits for their
families, the medical treatment team and the wider healthcare
"Patients who receive Gamma Knife treatment have
fewer complications than traditional neurosurgery patients
undergoing a craniotomy reducing the need for hospitalisation
and intensive care.
"For patients the Gamma Knife equates to fewer
treatment sessions, shorter hospital stays and less physical,
mental and emotional strain. Additionally, it reduces the
overall burden on the healthcare system.
"Now with the Gamma Knife we can offer treatment and
along with that hope that the patient`s life may not only be
extended, but also that their remaining time will involve a
much better quality of life," he said.