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VOL. 23, NO. 5OCTOBER 3, 1997

C-PMC to Obtain a 'Gamma Knife': First Radio-Surgery System in N.Y.

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (C-PMC) will acquire a gamma knife, a new multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art technology that significantly increases efficiency and patient comfort in the treatment of vascular malformations, tumors and other lesions of the brain and head.

  The 20-ton piece of equipment will be delivered to C-PMC by its manufacturer in late 1997 and will be operational for treatment in early 1998. C-PMC's gamma knife will be among the first in the greater New York area and one of less than 75 worldwide.

  The gamma knife is not actually a knife, but rather a radiosurgery system used in the treatment of small- to moderate-sized arteriovenous malformations, brain tumors and metastases.

  Using a three-dimensional approach, the gamma knife facilitates sophisticated treatment planning and allows for the highest level of precision in positioning radiosurgical beams, thus minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and increasing the effectiveness of treatment.

  Less invasive than traditional treatments, gamma knife radiosurgery significantly increases patient comfort as well.

  Unlike with traditional open skull procedures, which can require several days in the hospital and weeks or months of recuperation, patients treated with the gamma knife can often go home the same day and return to work or school immediately.

  The gamma knife works by focusing numerous gamma rays through the brain to a carefully selected site. Using computerized imagery and computerized treatment planning, appropriate brain lesions can be destroyed with minimal radiation exposure to normal brain structures.

  "Essentially a painless, bloodless surgical device, the gamma knife is the optimal treatment method for many small lesions of the brain and cancer related conditions," said Peter Schiff, chairman/director of C-PMC's department of radiation oncology.

  C-PMC's acquisition of the gamma knife is a collaborative effort of the institution's neurosurgery and radiation oncology departments. Robert Solomon, professor and chairman of the department of neurological surgery at C-PMC, says that "the gamma knife represents the state of the art in stereotactic radiosurgery."

  Schiff estimates that C-PMC will use the gamma knife in the treatment of up to 150 brain cancer patients in 1998, and that its use will eventually extend to many other neurosurgical treatments.

  "Ultimately, C-PMC expects to use the gamma knife in the treatment of many other conditions, including for the relief of facial and other chronic cancer-related pain, epileptic seizures, psychoneurosis, cancers of the eye, tumors of the pituitary gland, and Parkinson's Disease and other movement disorders," said Schiff.