In Greenville, there is a new machine at Vidant Medical Center to improve cancer treatment.
It works by destroying cells so they don’t grow, shrinking the size of brain tumors over time.
Gamma Knife makes it easy to reach and treat a large number of tumors in a single session with minimal recovery.
“It is like hitting the bullseye of a target with very little radiation to the next ring of the target,” Chief of Neurology Stuart Lee said.
Lee said their gamma knife technology delivers a high dose of radiation to a very small target without making an incision or affecting healthy surrounding tissue.
“Obviously we do not want to radiate normal brain tissue,” Lee said. “That can have some long-term memory problems, it can create deficits down the road.”
The latest Gamma Knife model was installed at Vidant in December, and it has already treated more than 100 people.
Some treatments take as little as 15 minutes.
“If you go back 25 or 30 years, almost everyone with that condition had surgery and now probably less than 10 percent of them have surgery,” Lee said. “They don’t have downtime. They don’t have a hospital stay. One day of treatment and they go back and live their life.”
Gamma Knife is almost always performed as an outpatient procedure with generally few side effects.
The center at Vidant is one of only two in our state.
The other is at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.
“We obviously serve eastern North Carolina so to tell them to go an additional three or four hours to get that treatment would be very difficult for many of them so for us it’s a huge advantage to have this technology close to home,” Lee said.
Another benefit to the new model is that it is quicker and more comfortable for patients.
Lee said in some cases, patients may use a mask placement instead of a traditional frame.
Lee said the mask requires no anesthesia and causes no pain.
He said the biggest benefit is the precision, accuracy, and convenience for patients.
“Just the fact that it’s here and its another example of how we try to take care of the people in eastern North Carolina,” Lee said.