Fall 2007

Perfexion UCSF Acquires Advanced Gamma Knife

The Gamma Knife has been the gold standard in brain radiosurgery for the last 15 years, says UCSF radiation oncologist Penny Sneed, M.D. "It allows for incredibly precise treatment, superb conformity of radiation dose to targets and planning directly from MRI, which is vastly superior to CT in showing brain anatomy and the exact extent of brain lesions."

UCSF physicians are now happy to have acquired the most advanced version of Gamma Knife technology, the Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, which improves radiosurgery for physicians and patients.

According to Sneed, who — along with Michael McDermott, M.D., of the Department of Neurological Surgery — is co-director of the Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Program at UCSF, the Gamma Knife Perfexion keeps all of the advantages of the prior system, but was redesigned from scratch to make patient treatments more comfortable and efficient and to make it possible to easily reach lesions anyplace in the brain, in patients of any size.

"With the old Gamma Knife, it was sometimes difficult or even impossible to reach some extreme locations in the head, especially when treating multiple lesions on the same day," Sneed says.

Treatments with the Perfexion machine are also faster to set up and are done more quickly. This combination of greater coverage and expedited treatment makes radiosurgery far easier for patients, Sneed says.

"A highly complicated treatment of seven or eight brain metastases might have required four hours to carry out on the old machine, including some uncomfortable positions for the patient," Sneed says. "The same procedure will take about one and a half hours to complete with the new Gamma Knife Perfexion, without any uncomfortable positions."

The new machine was also designed with much attention to safety and reliability. Improved software allows for greater control of the treatment, and the new hardware provides major reductions in radiation leakage outside the target area.

"This new machine is a giant leap forward in brain radiosurgery," Sneed says. "I am extremely pleased and excited to make it available to patients at UCSF, where we have a superb multidisciplinary team to bring together the necessary expertise and judgment with the most advanced equipment."

For more information, call Penny Sneed, M.D., at (415) 353-9807 or Michael McDermott, M.D., at (415) 353-7500.

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