How high-energy rays can destroy the knots in your brain and prevent the damage caused by devastating strokes
- The 45-minute Gamma Knife procedure is used to reach difficult brain tumors
- It is now offered to people suffering from arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
- AVM ensures that the blood vessels in the brain become weak and confused
- If these blood vessels rupture, this can lead to devastating strokes and even death
A breakthrough treatment that blows hundreds of high-energy rays into the brain with extreme accuracy can prevent devastating blows in thousands of Britons.
The 45-minute Gamma Knife procedure is already being used to treat hard-to-reach brain tumors. But now it's being offered to people with tangled, weakened blood vessels in the brain – a condition called arteriovenous malformation, or AVM.
The problem, which increases the risk of a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain, affects approximately 58,000 Britons. The majority of patients are believed to have been born with the error, although it is not believed to have been passed on through families.
A hi-tech operation can help prevent devastating strokes by securing weak and tangled blood vessels in the brain before they rupture, killing the surrounding tissue
In many cases it causes no symptoms and most cases are picked up occasionally while patients are being tested for other reasons or as soon as the AVM ruptures. Once spotted, treatment is crucial because the tangle forms a bundle, causing barrels to burst faster, with potentially fatal consequences.
During the Gamma Knife treatment, hundreds of gamma rays come together, similar to x-rays used in radiotherapy treatments, thereby safely destroying the AVM node.
In patients who have already had bleeding in the brain, it can be used to prevent further ruptures and strokes. Previously, the only option was to remove growth through intensive surgery, where damage was caused to nearby brain areas that control vision, speech and movement, as well as death. Doctors can also block blood flow to the tangled blood vessels – preventing them from growing – by creating a block with medical & # 39; super glue & # 39 ;. This prevents the growth of oxygen, causing it to shrink, but it is still a long-term and risky operation.
No cuts are needed with Gamma Knife. Neurosurgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London say the procedure has a 90 percent success rate. & # 39; For patients with AVM, there is a two to three percent chance of bleeding every year & # 39 ;, says Greg James, neurosurgeon consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who is implementing the new treatment. & # 39; Many of our patients are healthy primary school children and that lifelong risk is simply too high. It's a ticking time bomb and we have to deal with it. & # 39;
Neurosurgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London say the procedure has a 90 percent success rate Patients are born with AVM, described by surgeons as & # 39; a ticking time bomb & # 39;
During the procedure, Gamma Knife rays are delivered via a metal helmet. The energy causes the node of blood vessels to shrink to a ball in a few years. Damage to the sensitive brain areas is less than that caused by other radiation therapies due to the precision of the rays. AVMs are probably caused by a problem with the development of blood vessels in the womb.
One patient who can benefit from this is Isabella Fraser-Corbridge, 17, from Southampton. She was referred to James in Great Ormond Street in June 2017 after a stroke. Scans revealed that it was caused by a large AVM. & # 39; I was a competitive swimmer at the national level, but suddenly I was not allowed to exercise & # 39 ;, says Isabella.
Because Isabella had a high risk of a new stroke, James recommended the Gamma Knife procedure, which she underwent in October 2017. During the operation, scans locate the growth, with images that are beamed to a computer, so that doctors can program the direction of the rays. The patient's head is placed in the helmet that fires the rays into the brain. Hundreds come in from different angles, coinciding in the middle of growth.
Isabella came home the next day. Now, two years later, scans show no signs of growth – it has completely disappeared.
& # 39; It's like magic & # 39 ;, says her mother, Claire Corbridge, 51. However, last year Isabella had an intense headache, a well-known side effect of Gamma Knife, which meant she had to give up her university temporarily. But it was a small price to pay. & # 39; I'm just so grateful that the growth has disappeared & # 39 ;, she says. & # 39; I plan to go back to school in September. In the meantime I coach swimming and I hope to be able to come back to competitive swimming at the provincial level. & # 39;
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