Dr. Bovis is one of three neurosurgeons in the entire Chicago metro area who have expertise and access to both Gamma Knife radiosurgery and CyberKnife® radiosurgery. In some cases the two technologies may be interchangeable, but in other situations, there is a clearly superior technology to treat the neurological condition. By having both technologies as part of his armamentarium, Dr. Bovis can tailor the treatment to the patient and their condition. He will be among the most experienced neurosurgeons in the country using both technologies, and will therefore have a deeper perspective on which conditions should be treated with one radiosurgical device over the other.

For example, certain spinal pathologies, such as metastatic cancer in the spine, are best treated with the CyberKnife. In other cases, such as trigeminal neuralgia or acoustic neuroma, Dr. Bovis believes the precision and experience of the Gamma Knife will yield better patient treatment outcomes.

To discuss your radiosurgical treatment options with Dr. Bovis, please call 847-698-1088.

Gamma Knife Overview

The Gamma Knife was first introduced in Stockholm, Sweden in 1968, as the result of work by famous Swedish neurosurgeon, Lars Leksell, M.D., Ph.D. Approximately twenty-years later, the Gamma Knife was introduced to the United States. The Gamma Knife is specifically designed to treat disorders in the brain and can not be used to treat conditions elsewhere in the body. Consequently, neurosurgeons and hospitals using this technology are highly committed to providing the patient with a brain tumor the best chance of success.

The Gamma Knife is not a knife at all. In fact, it is a non-invasive approach to obliterating brain tumors, which uses up to 201 beams of cobalt radiation to target the affected site deep within the brain. By design, brain tissue is only damaged at the point where the beams converge, thereby sparing healthy brain tissue. In addition, because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is non-invasive, patients go home from the hospital the same day.

During the last four decades, the Gamma Knife has continued to be studied and refined. Over 2,500 clinical studies and case reports have been presented and published in peer-reviewed journals. Over 600,000 patients have been treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery worldwide, and in the last decade the number of procedures in the U.S. has increased by over 200 percent. It is now considered the gold standard for the treatment of many types of brain tumors and other brain conditions. It has brought new hope to patients with conditions that were previously considered inoperable.

The Gamma Knife is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and reimbursable under most insurance plans. The Gamma Knife is a 20-ton instrument with three components:

  • A large, hemispheric shield, which contains powerful, cobalt-60 sources that emit a form of radiation known as gamma rays;
  • A collimator helmet which encases 201 small, circular openings, that surround the patient’s head; and
  • A hydraulic bed that moves the patient into the hemispheric shield.

Each of these components, along with the Gamma Knife planning station, is an integral part of the procedure.

The Gamma Knife treatment process:

  • Placement of the stereotactic frame. Bovis begins the process by placing the stereotactic frame on the patient’s head, using a mild local anesthetic to ensure that patients feel only a slight pressure during applications. This frame facilitates the precise determination of the size, shape and location of the targeted brain abnormality. It also immobilizes the head for accurate delivery of the concentrated dose of radiation.
  • Imaging and dosage planning. After the frame is in place, patients have an imaging procedure (MRI or CT scan or angiogram) to pinpoint the location of the lesion. These images allow Dr. Bovis to view the brain tumor or lesion in three dimensions, helping him define the precise target area and tailor the proper dosage of radiation to be delivered. This is a complex process that can take several hours.
  • Radiation delivery. During the procedure itself, the patient remains awake and can speak to Dr. Bovis and his team at any time. The patient lies down on the unit, and the stereotactic frame is attached within the collimator helmet. The unit then moves the patient part way into the Gamma Knife’s radiation shield, and the first dose of radiation is delivered. The number of doses is determined by the size and shape of the brain tumor, lesion or abnormality. Treatment may last from a few minutes up to several hours.
  • Monitoring and discharge. When treatment is completed, the stereotactic frame is removed and the patient is moved to a monitoring unit to be watched carefully for a number of hours. In outpatient procedures, the patient is normally discharged the same afternoon or evening. Other patients are monitored throughout the night and are normally ready for discharge by mid-morning. At time of discharge, Dr. Bovis will discuss a follow-up treatment plan with each patient.