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Gamma Knife Offers Noninvasive Treatment for Vascular Disorders, Brain Tumors

A week after graduating from high school, Katherine Coit had brain surgery to remove an abnormal tangle of blood vessels that were bleeding in her brain.//

The potentially life-threatening condition called arterio-venous malformation (AVM) was diagnosed after Ms. Coit woke up one morning with numbness in her mouth and in one of her hands. Her surgeon was able to remove more than 90 percent of the AVM during a craniotomy three years ago, but a small, worm-shaped portion about one-inch long remained. It caused her constant migraine headaches, but was located so deep in her brain that it was too dangerous to remove with conventional brain surgery.

A team of specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center found a solution using the latest radiation technology to treat inoperable vascular malformations, cancer and benign tumors of the brain – the Gamma Knife. On Aug. 11, doctors used the Gamma Knife to focus 201 beams of cobalt radiation with sub-millimeter precision on the remaining AVM in Ms. Coit’s brain.

Patients at UT Southwestern benefit from a breadth of experience and expertise among the physicians of the Gamma Knife team that is unprecedented in North Texas. A group of nationally renowned neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, neuro-interventional radiologists and physicists, supported by a dedicated nursing staff, review each case to devise the optimal treatment plan.

“The Gamma Knife offers a more accurate way to treat smaller and deeper areas in the brain,” said Dr. Bruce Mickey, vice chairman of neurological surgery and director of the Annette G. Strauss Center in Neuro-Oncology. “We have the breadth of experience in dealing with all types of vascular malformations within the nervous system and brain tumors. We don’t steer patients into one type of treatment.

“By combining our expertise, we look at the best, most promising options for each patient. It may be conventional brain surgery for
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