Pinning down patient comfort with Gamma Knife Icon

Head (and shoulders) above: The new Gamma Icon Knife stereotactic radiosurgery system improves patient comfort and facilitates radiosurgeries for a host of additional conditions.

The latest precision instrument for targeting brain tumors – and only brain tumors – has come to Long Island.

But the precision delivery of radiological treatments directly to malignant tissue is not the big breakthrough here – or perhaps even the most appealing upgrade for patients.

Northwell Health’s Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Radiation Medicine have both installed cutting-edge stereotactic radiosurgery systems known as Gamma Knife Icon – another cutting-edge breakthrough designed specifically to reduce cutting and deliver lethal radiation doses directly to malignant tumors, while sparing healthy tissue.

Where Gamma Knife Icon, a product of Swedish health-tech innovator Elekta, shines brightest is its elimination of heavy headsets held in place by painful pins.

Standing in almost Dark Ages contrast to the precision 21st century radiological payloads they delivered, traditional Gamma Knife procedures required the patient’s head be immobilized by inserting it into a bulky frame, held in place by pins against the scalp.

Michael Schulder: Cutting surgical risks.

But Gamma Knife Icon offers a “completely frameless setup” that leverages recent advances in real-time motion management, imaging techniques and related tech, according to Northwell Health. Hailed as a breakthrough in patient comfort, the state-of-the-art device is now up and running inside the Center for Advanced Medicine at the Lake Success-based Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

While causing fewer headaches (literally) for patients, Gamma Knife Icon’s less-restrictive setup – which combines 3D imaging and software and provides continuous real-time monitoring of the patient’s condition – also opens cranial stereotactic radiosurgery to “a broader range of conditions,” according to the New Hyde Park-based health system, including meningiomas, metastatic and pituitary tumors and trigeminal neuralgia.

Michael Schulder, Northwell Health’s neurosurgery vice chairman and director of the Brain Tumor Center at the Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute, said the new tool would go a long way toward improving patient care and eliminating the risks associated with traditional surgeries.

“The Gamma Knife Icon system focuses powerful doses of concentrated radiation that attack tumors and other abnormalities, shrinking them over time or stopping their growth altogether,” said the doctor, who is also co-director of the Northwell Center for Stereotactic Radiosurgery. “This technology offers the precision of surgery without a scalpel and without the usual risks of surgery or an incision.”