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Hello. My name Is Jill I had gamma knife radiation in August, 2017 for two recurrences from a meningioma which I had surgically removed in 2001. My original meningioma was large, about the size of a small orange. I had the surgery in Atlanta where I live. The recurrences were small but one of them was very elongated in size going from behind my eye to behind the top of my nose and it was in an area that would have been very risky to remove surgically. I had an MRI in Atlanta in 2017 because I was having a lot of vertigo. The MRI showed I had the two recurrences. It turned out it had nothing to do with having vertigo. I went to two neurosurgeons in Atlanta for recommendations on treatment. One recommended surgery on one of the recurrences in order to biopsy it and cyber knife on the elongated one. The other surgeon recommended gamma knife on both recurrences. I was uncertain which direction to take, so I self-referred myself to Mayo in Rochester, MN. The neurosurgeon I saw there, and the radiation oncologist, both recommended gamma knife for both recurrences. I had it done there and I am so glad I did. I have MRI's annually now to follow-up on the recurrences. I had the first one in 2018 at Mayo and I had the 2019 and 2020 in Atlanta and sent the CD to Mayo for review. Each MRI I've had since I had gamma knife shows the recurrences are stable; no growth at all and one is even a fraction smaller.
At Mayo in Rochester, they have one gamma knife machine, and on the day I was having the procedure they were doing 5 patients including me. We were all told to arrive at 5am. After checking in, I was taken to a small room to change into a gown and was giving a mild sedative (so mild, I never even felt it). My husband stayed in that room all day while I had the procedure. I was taken to the radiation dept around 6am. The first they did is put the helmet on. It only took a few minutes. There were two pins put in my forehead and 2 pins behind my head above my neck that secure the helmet to your head. Before inserting the pins, I was given a numbing injection in each area where a pin goes. For a few seconds, I felt pain from the needle going in my forehead. Seriously, just a few seconds. The numbing drug is so fast acting that I didn't feel anything after that other than pressure. It felt as though someone was pressing on the sides of my head. It wasn't painful. It just felt tight and like pressure.
The helmet is not heavy. Your view is not obstructed You can move your head except when in the MRI and gamma knife machine. I had no idea what it looked like until I needed to go the bathroom while I was waiting for it to be my turn in the machine. When I saw the helmet on my head in the mirror over the sink, I felt a little queasy, but I get queasy easily from anything to do with needles, even just from having a blood test. By the way, my father also died of a malignant brain tumor. It wasn't a meningioma. It was a malignant astro cytoma.
After the helmet was put on, an IV was put in. It's to give a small dose of steroids to prevent swelling of the brain from gamma knife. Then I was given an MRI. I don't recall if it was with contrast. If it was, that was also done through the IV. The MRI was only lasted 15 minutes so it's much quicker than the usual brain MRI. The helmet is attached to the MRI table so you cannot move your head at all.
My doctors had explained to me in advance how they decide the order for the 5 patients to go in the gamma knife machine: if there are children and senior citizens, they go first. Then patients who need to be in the machine the shortest period of time are next. I was the last of the 5 because I had to stay in the machine for two and a half hours to accommodate the elongated meningioma. The helmet is attached to the table you lie on in the machine so you cannot move your head. I was told it's OK to move my arms and legs. The gamma knife machine is larger than an MRI machine. I am very claustrophobic in an MRI machine but I wasn't claustrophobic in the gamma knife machine. There is more space above your head and on the sides of your body. It does not make any noise and you don't feel anything at all from the machine. I only wish I had asked for a sedative so I could have dozed. I was wide awake the entire two and a half hours. The only way I could tall how much time had passed was to ask the physicist who was at the controls. I recommend you ask your doctor for a sedative if you are going to be in the machine for more than an hour.
As soon as I was taken out of the machine, the nurses removed the helmet. For the first few minutes after it was removed, I still felt pressure as though it was still on my head. The nurses said that is very common. It's also common that you may have a little bleeding at the pin sites. They put a bandage around my head that I wore for about an hour. When I removed it, I was not bleeding at all. I had a bad headache from the pressure of wearing the helmet all day since I was the last to go in the machine. I had it on from around 6:30am to 4:30pm. When I got back to my hotel, I took one of my migraine pills and that took care of it. After the helmet is removed and the bandage put on, they took me back to the room where my husband was. The nurse checks your vitals and asked if I wanted anything to drink or snack on. They kept me for about an hour and a half, checking vitals and to make sure I was OK. When I was released, other than a headache, I was fine to walk from the hospital across the street to our hotel.
The next morning, I was very puffy under my eyes. The neurosurgeon had told me to expect that. He said it's fairly common. I think it's from the numbing drug, not from gamma knife itself.
I wish you the very best. Please feel free to ask me any other questions you may have. I hope you will let me know how it goes and how you are doing. My best,

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Replies to "Hello. My name Is Jill I had gamma knife radiation in August, 2017 for two recurrences..."

Hi Jill, You explain everything so well. You did for me last year and it helped so much. I am sure it will help mountain seeker. Have a great day everyone.

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