Saturday, 22 September 2007

Gamma Knife Surgery

Well I must apologise as I have not been keeping up my Blogg, I never was very good at diary keeping. Well since the last posting a lot has happened, I had two more meetings with Dr John Wadley the surgeon at the Royal London to discuss surgery and update my MRI scan. The second MRI scan was taken in May after our first meeting and then we discussed a course of action in June, the scan had showed the cavernoma to be larger than they first thought, and so Gamma Knife might prove too dangerous to have done. However all six of the surgeons working on my case agreed finally that they would perform the operation if I was in agreement. The treatment took place on the 5th September 2007 and the process started at 8am (if you remember this was the day of the London tube strike adding to the excitement)! My decision to have the GK was based on stats, there was a 30% chance of a re bleed (even a small bleed would have a devastating effect in the brainstem) and post surgery that risk would be reduced to 2%. However the surgery itself posed a risk of about 20% chance of me having a return of symptoms I had experienced post bleed the first time permanent or temporary.

Well I opted to take the risk so my journey began first to Barts and The London at 8am to have the MRI scan and meet part of the team that would be working with Dr Wadley. The MRI scan was a little different than before as they had to fit a frame on my head, this entailed having four very painful injections into my head so that the frame could be bolted onto my head, before the scan (see startled rabbit in the headlights photo). Then at about 10am I was driven in an ambulance with a nurse, and my husband was able to accompany me (this was due to the tube strike) to the Gamma Knife Centre in Harley Street, Marylebone. Here I met Dr Wadley again and the team members that would be working together, also I had another apparatus placed on my head to get precise measurements to prepare my treatment plan of radiation. It was explained to me that there would be 16 positions that the GK machine would rotate my head into before emitting small doses of radiation culminating in 14 grey (a safe amount for the brainstem to receive). I must stress that these rotation movements were minute and hardly noticeable, and unlike an MRI scan I was allowed to move the rest of the body, if I wanted. The GK machine looked like an MRI scanner and you lay on it in the same way.
I moved in and out of the GK machine 16 times and the whole procedure took 54 mins, each time I came out of the machine there was a bing bong sound (like at the check out of a super market) the nurses also suggested that I chose some music for the event so the room was filled with soul classics such as 'I feel Good' by James Brown and 'Sexual Healing'by Marvin Gaye(I know a strange choice but you should have seen the other options ABBA and Britney Spears)! Once this was complete I was released from the head frame and walked out of the treatment room (next photo), then after a bit of a wait (again due to the tube strike) myself my husband and the nurse were taken to the Royal London to settle me in a bed for the night. My head felt very numb and a bit bruised but apart from that everything else was fine, in fact I felt elated that it was all over. It will be two years before they will know if it has been effective and if there will be any side effects from the radiation. I can say that I have slept alot and my head is still bruised two weeks post surgery, but apart from that everything seems ok.

I am glad that I have had the surgery done and feel very positive, even though my head still feels bruised I am sure this will heal. I have been putting Chamomile ointment on my head and taking a homeopathic remedy Passiflora meant to assist with something traumatic happening either physical or emotional. I think I can tick both those boxes, although I shut a lot of my fears out and did not allow my self to dwell on the worst of them.

(To get Andre's experience at Sheffield check this link)


Eda said...


First thanks for your report. I wish you well continue.

My sister has a brainstem cavernoma so I˙m very intrested in your story.I want to know how are you felling today, do you still have some problems and so on.

By, Eda Belingar

Michaela (Fresh Ideas) said...

I just came cross your blog and it is like a sign for me.
I've been diagnosed cavernoma, too.
Meeting neurosurgeon on my birthday as you.
If you read this can you somehow get back to me, please.

I wish to ask you few things if you wouldn't feel bothered.

Thank you

Sravanthi Reddy said...

Thanks for share dis article.Very useful
Radiosurgery is usually a single dose of treatment but may include more than 1 in treatments requiring more specialised brain tumor treatment management. Radiosurgery is called Gamma Knife / CyberKnife treatment, after the machines used to give it. You can also have the treatment using the more common radiotherapy machine.

Visit: RadioSurgery India