The gamma knife was the first radiosurgical device developed at the Karolinska Institute in 1967. Stereotactic radiosurgery using the gamma knife has been widely accepted in clinical practice and has contributed to the development of neurosurgery. More than 500,000 patients have been treated by gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery so far, and the method is now an indispensable neurosurgical tool. Here we review long-term outcomes and development of stereotactic radiosurgery using the gamma knife and discuss its future perspectives. The primary role of stereotactic radiosurgery is to control small well-demarcated lesions such as metastatic brain tumors, meningiomas, schwannomas, and pituitary adenomas while preserving the function of surrounding brain tissue. The gamma knife has been used as a primary treatment or in combination with surgery, and some applications have been accepted as standard treatment in the field of neurosurgery. Treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations has also been drastically changed after emergence of this technology. Controlling functional disorders is another role of stereotactic radiosurgery. There is a risk of radiation-induced adverse events, which are usually mild and less frequent. However, especially in large or invasive lesions, those risks are not negligible and pose limitations. Advancement of irradiation technology and dose planning software have enabled more sophisticated and safer treatment, and further progress will contribute to better treatment outcomes not only for brain lesions but also for cervical lesions with less invasive treatment.
- Gamma knife
- Stereotactic radiosurgery