EVOLUTION OF THE GAMMA KNIFE

The Leksell Gamma Knife® was developed by Professor Lars Leksell of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden together with biophysicist Professor Broje Larsson, of the Gustaf Werner Institute, University of Uppsala

In 1949 Professor Leksell created the Leksell Micro Stereotactic System ®, which permitted the mechanical placement of a needle, canula or electrode at precise locations within the brain without direct visual guidance.Professor Leksell recognized the need for a tool to allow for treatment of deep-seated intracranial structures, without opening of the skull and the hazards of open surgery. He was convinced that agents other than cannulas or electrodes could be used to eradicate pathologies or to create therapeutic lesions in functional disorders.

In 1951, externally applied X-rays were substituted for the instruments used in the open Stereotactic procedures. By coupling a source of radiation with a Stereotactic guiding device, the first radiosurgical procedure was thus performed. Leksell found that by administering a single dose or radiation, it was possible to successfully destroy deep brain structures. He called this technique "Stereotactic Radiosurgery."

During the 1950s and 1960s, Professor Leksell conducted intensive research in order to identify the ideal radiation source and equipment for Stereotactic Radiosurgery. Linear accelerators (photons) and synchrocyclotrons (photons) were tried and evaluated. However, none proved to be satisfactory in terms of accuracy, reliability, simplicity, patient safety, expense or maneuverability. A set of criteria for radiosurgical equipment was formulated and the Gamma Knife was developed in response to these needs.

The first Stereotactic Gamma Knife using cobalt-60 sources was constructed and installed in Stockholm in 1968. That unit was primarily intended for use in functional brain surgery for the section of deep fiber tracts as in the treatment of intractable pain and movement disorders.

As sophisticated neuroimaging (computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and position emission tomography) evolved, Leksell realized the potential of the Gamma Knife in the treatment of neoplastic and vascular disorders.

In 1974 a second Gamma Knife was installed at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and intense clinical activity commenced. Elekta has subsequently installed Gamma Knife units at leading neurosurgical institutions throughout the world.

Since 1968, the Gamma Knife has established its efficacy and safety and offers an operative system, which makes the depths of the brain more accessible. More than 150000 patients have been treated over more than 25 years.

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Gamma Knife treatment offers new hope for patients with brain tumors, vascular malformations and functional disorders