Sheffield hospital becomes first in the world to use pioneering Gamma Knife machine

Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital is leading the way in brain surgery thanks to its use of a pioneering new treatment.

Gamma Knife is an alternative treatment in neurosurgery which targets abnormal tissue in the brain and spares healthy surrounding cells using Gamma rays. It can also be used to treat brain lesions and tumours.

One of the first patients to undergo the treatment is Derry Crighton, 41, of Forfar, Scotland. Derry suffered two brain haemorrhages due to a condition known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM), where blood vessels become tangled and cause bleeding in the brain. 

Mr Crighton said he could not have regular surgery due to the location of his condition.

He said: “It would have been too complex and at a minimum would have left me blind in one eye. It is fantastic to be able to have the gamma knife treatment. It is amazing because it is invisible and painless and you are awake through the whole thing.”

The Royal Hallamshire is renowned for its National Centre for Stereotactic Radiosurgery which was the first and is the largest centre for gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery in the UK.

A spokesperson for the hospital has said: “Unlike open surgery, patients are usually treated as a day case, and the treatment is less invasive.”

The treatment also meant Mr Crighton could return to work as a tree surgeon just days after the procedure. 

The aim of his treatment is to completely eradicate his condition.

Other patients have praised the medical team and called the treatment, ‘an incredible experience.’

 The treatment is painless and can be used as a frame-based treatment or mask-based meaning the patient must wear a mask or frame to target the tumour precisely.

Julian Cahill, Consultant Neurosurgeon and Clinical Lead for the National Centre for Stereotactic Radiosurgery said: “We are proud to be leading the way with the latest Gamma Knife technology which we are confident will enable a greater range of patients to receive treatment here in Sheffield.”

In 1985, there were only three gamma units in the world that had been installed, now there are 600 that treat 60,000 patients every year. 

Written by Madeleine Lake

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