Brain surgery without going under knife - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Brain surgery without going under knife

January 28, 2003

Thomasville - It's brain surgery without going under the knife. Archbold Memorial Hospital is the first in Southwest Georgia to get the modern medical technology.

The Gamma Knife was shipped from Sweden to Savannah and driven to Thomasville. A crane hoisted it into Archbold Memorial Hospital. There are only 68 Gamma Knifes in the country and three in Georgia. Doctors say the Gamma Knife is taking the pain out of brain surgery.

A brain tumor is conventionally removed with surgical tools, but now beams of radiation can zap it away. Neurosurgeon, Dr. Craig Fredericks, says, "Not really a knife, it's called a knife because of its precision."

The Gamma Knife is cutting edge technology at Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville without the cutting. More than 200 beams of radiation focus on specific problem spots in the brain. Radiation Oncologist, Dr. J. Steven Johnson, says, "Because it's computer driven we can shape virtually any shape of tumor that we need to, to get radiation to millimeter precision."

The Gamma Knife in Thomasville and Augusta are C models, which means they are computerized. There are 23 of these kind in the country. The machine in Atlanta is an older version, which means Southwest Georgia is one step up from the big city. Dr. Johnson says, "Which means a technician and doctor don't have to keep adjusting patients head, the machine does it automatically."

Doctors say the procedure is bloodless, painless and patients get to go home the same day. A regular surgery would take a month to recover. Dr. Fredericks says, "It's easy to get them excited about it and a lot less stressful for us."

Another plus, Gamma Knife patients don't have to shave their head. Archbold Memorial Hospital will start using the Gamma Knife for the first time on patients next week.

The Gamma Knife is a four-million dollar project that's expected to bring in patients from all over Georgia and surrounding states.

The Gamma Knife is also used to treat Parkinson's disease.

posted at 6:00PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com