NHS - Gamma Knife


Frequently asked Questions

How long will I be in Hospital?

In the majority of cases you will come to the hospital on the morning of treatment. Sometimes it may be more appropriate for you to arrive the day before. In this case, you will register with the ward where you will be directed to your overnight accommodation. The type of accomodation will have been dicussed previously and will depend on you individual clinical needs. This could be either a stay on the ward, in a patient accommadation block or a nearby hotel. You will normally be able to go home either on the day of your treatment or sometimes the day after your Gamma Knife treatment.  You may be away from home for up to two nights. This will be discussed with you beforehand.


Will I have any hair shaved off? 

 In normal circumstances this would not be neccessary.


Will it hurt? 
The placement of frame takes place using a local anaesthetic. There may be slight discomfort at first whilst this local anaesthetic is administered (much like at the dentist) . The treatment itself is painless and often patients fall asleep during treatment whilst others listen to music.


How will I feel afterwards?

Some patients feel tired and may have a mild headache, but this is usually the result of the tensions of the day.

Is it safe? 

Uncontrolled radiation can be dangerous but the gamma rays used in Gamma Knife radiosurgery treatment are given in controlled, carefully measured doses. The aim is to treat the illness while minimising the risk of harm to adjacent tissues.


Will I see anything? 

The Cobalt sources in the 'gamma knife' produce gamma rays which cannot be seen or felt. It is much like having an X-ray taken. 


Will I be Radioactive?

No. Patients treated by this method do not become radioactive. No radiation will stay in your body so you cannot harm anyone else, and it is perfectly safe to mix with other people.


Can I continue to work? 

On returning home you should be able to resume normal life, if you feel fit and well there is no need to change your lifestyle. Whether you go back to work or not will depend on many factors which you may need to discuss with your partner and your local doctors.

How long is it before the treatment begins to work? 

The effects of the Gamma Knife treatment are not immediate, and the details of this will be explained to you when you come to hospital. You will have follow-up examinations at your local hospital, who will send the information to Sheffield for assessment.


How long does the whole procedure take?

Most treatment sessions begin between 8.00 and 8.30am with the frame placement and diagnostic studies. The length of treatment time for the radiation treatment varies for each patient. The whole procedure is usually completed by late afternoon.  Some sessions commence in the afternoon (between 12.00 and 12.30pm) with the procedures finished by the early evening. Click below for more detail.

Treatment Day (gammaknife.org.uk)


Will I be able to drive after treatment?

The DVLA guidance relating to Stereotactic Radiosurgery has changed depending on the condition and area within the brain treated. It is advisable to ask the consultant when attending your clinic appointment.