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.