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High-Tech Tool for Brain Disorders
The new machine expands UCSF's ability to provide state-of-the-art, specialized care to patients.

Called the Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, the machine is the latest generation in gamma knife radiosurgery, a noninvasive technology that delivers a finely focused, high dose of radiation to a specific area of the brain. Its precision allows radiation to reach a particular target without damaging surrounding brain tissue, making it ideal for treating brain tumors. It is also effective for treating epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, trigeminal neuralgia (a nerve condition causing chronic pain) and abnormal blood vessel formations located deep in the brain. Abnormalities measuring less than one inch in diameter--the size of a tiny pebble--can be treated with gamma knife radiosurgery.

"This machine allows us to distribute a highly effective dose of radiation to diseased tissue more quickly and accurately than ever before," says Mitchel Berger, MD, professor and chairman of the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery and director of the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center. "Patients can be treated on an outpatient basis, in only a couple of hours, with little or no complications or side effects. This is a great benefit for patients who have already endured so much due to their diagnosis."

The new machine has greater flexibility and reach than the previous model, assisting UCSF neurosurgeons in treating more areas of the head and now the neck. Doses of radiation can be delivered to multiple target areas in one session, avoiding the need to move the patient or adjust the machine. This further reduces the amount of time a patient has to undergo treatment and reduces discomfort. Radiation exposure to other parts of the body is extremely low, making it an excellent treatment option for children and women of child-bearing age.

"This advanced technology coupled with UCSF's medical and research expertise ensures that patients with brain and neck lesions who are candidates for radiosurgery will continue to receive the most customized and innovative treatment available today," says Berger.

UCSF Medical Center is a pioneer in the use of technology to treat patients. The hospital was the first center in Northern California to use a Leksell Gamma Knife machine to treat brain disorders. Neurosurgeons have treated more than 6,000 target areas in more than 3,000 patients using the state-of-the-art technology. In addition, UCSF uses brain mapping, CyberKnife and surgical navigation systems to provide patients with the most comprehensive and advanced treatment options available today.

"But technology only takes you so far," reminds Berger. "Our world-class, multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, dieticians and social workers sets us apart from other hospitals and is essential to ensuring our patients receive the best possible care resulting in the best possible outcome."

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This story originated from the UC San Francisco news office.