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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


New device treats complicated tumors

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
Radiation Oncology and Neuro-sciences now have a non-invasive device that will allow them to treat patients with benign and malignant tumors in the head and neck using a precise dose of radiation. 
The Elekta’s Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion is unloaded from a truck Nov. 16. The gamma knife will be installed on the first floor of the University Hospital.

Elekta’s Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion delivers a single dose of ionizing radiation to a predetermined target set by advanced imaging. It  eradicates once inaccessible tumors and vascular malformations without the risks of surgery. Contrary to its name, the gamma knife is not a knife at all. Its 201 focused beams are what actually pierce a tumor. This precision allows the multidisciplinary team to treat tumors set deep into the brain or those located near the spinal cord, or other vulnerable areas, without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.
“The gamma knife is an important piece of medical equipment that will allow clinicians at MUSC to target and treat tiny lesions in the central nervous system with sub-millimeter accuracy,” said Joseph Jenrette, M.D., Radiation Oncology chair. “It will build on MUSC’s lengthy expertise in stereotactic radiosurgery, which was established in 1991 when the Medical University started the first program of its kind in South Carolina.”
Treatment is a bloodless procedure in which the computer room becomes a virtual operating room where physicians and physicists map out the tumor utilizing 3-D technology. Patients are not required to remove scalp hair. The procedure does, however, shave off at least an hour of treatment time from conventional brain surgery, allowing the patient to leave the hospital that same day. Intensive post-operative care is not needed, though the surgical team may suggest the patient stay overnight for observation if needed. 
The stereotactic radiosurgery program utilizing the gamma knife is a cross-specialty technology in which physicians and staff from the departments of Radiation Oncology, Neurosciences, and Radiology collaborate.
“MUSC Neurosciences in collaboration with Radiation Oncology adds yet another technology for the care of patients with various brain disorders,” said Sunil Patel, M.D., Department of Neuro-sciences chair. “The Perfexion is the newest in gamma knife technology and also will be used for the treatment of a variety of neurological disorders in coming decades. With the addition of the gamma knife, MUSC Neurosciences remains at the cutting edge for the treatment of brain tumors and AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) in South Carolina.”
The gamma knife is currently being installed on the first floor of the University Hospital and should be ready for clinical use in the next few months. Patients with brain metastases, astrocytomas, ateriovenous malforma-tions, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas and pituitary tumors are candidates for this technology. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressions, and seizures may also in part be treated.
The gamma knife program also provides MUSC an educational and training opportunity for residents.

Friday, Nov. 20, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.