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UVA uses new technology in noninvasive brain surgery

The University of Virginia Health System recently became the first hospital in Virginia – and one of the first in the world – to use a new technology in noninvasive brain surgery. The new technology, the Gamma Knife Icon, is used for noninvasive surgery of the brain and upper spine.

“The Gamma Knife Icon represents a major advance in the field of neurosurgery,” said Jason Sheehan, MD, director of UVA’s Gamma Knife Center, in a UVA news release. “We can now perform noninvasive brain procedures with an average accuracy of 0.15 millimeters. It represents a tremendous refinement in brain surgery, allowing us to treat complex brain disorders without so much as a drop of blood lost and generally improving a patient’s neurological condition.”

The new machine has two new features: a built in CT scanner and infrared motion monitoring to increase the surgery’s precision, as well as improve patient safety. It also allows for microradiosurgery, a very precise form of Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Patients receiving treatment from the Gamma Knife Icon may place their head in a frame that will help them hold their head in place during the surgery. Those receiving frameless treatment will use a mask that uses a CT scan and infrared sensor to monitor the patient’s motion in real-time. This technology ensures that the patient’s head remains within a set limit of safety and effectiveness during the surgery.

Gamma Knife technology has been used for at UVA and around the world for more than 30 years to treat neurological disorders such as acoustic neuromas, epilepsy, movement disorders, and more. It uses 192 beams of focused high energy to treat patients without the need for cutting or shaving the patient’s hair or lengthy hospital stays. The procedure is performed in a single sitting.

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