McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Douglas Kondziolka, MD (pictured), the Peter Jannetta Professor and vice-chairman of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, has guided since 1987 the designers and manufacturers of the gamma knife—a surgical tool used in brain surgery that destroys tumors many considered inoperable in a non-invasive, computer-driven, bloodless manner without incisions—in the subsequent generations of gamma knife technology, all of which were pioneered first at the University of Pittsburgh Medicine Center (UPMC). Together, he and colleague L. Dade Lunsford, MD, distinguished professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, and the first clinician in North America to use the gamma knife, co-direct UPMC’s Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery. The Center recently celebrated its 10,000th surgery with the gamma knife.
The milestone surgery, the removal of a metastatic brain tumor from an 81-year-old man from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, further distinguishes UPMC as a world leader in radiosurgery experience.
“We have learned from these 10,000 cases that by helping to advance this technology, we are able to deliver optimal management of patients with increasingly complex and often deadly brain tumors and other brain and vein abnormalities. Thankfully, in most cases, we can extend our patients’ lives and preserve and enhance the quality of their lives,” said Dr. Kondziolka.
Gamma knife radiosurgery is a multidisciplinary procedure that relies on the talents of radiation oncologists and medical physicists who partner with neurosurgeons in the treatment of often difficult clinical problems. Since the first gamma knife unit was installed at UPMC in 1987 – the first unit in North America – patients from around the world have traveled to UPMC for treatment. The UPMC gamma knife center is a highly regarded international training and research center, holding numerous courses each year for neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical physicists worldwide.
“Our involvement in the development of clinical uses for the gamma knife has given us the rare opportunity that few clinicians experience to shape the field of radiosurgery,” said Dr. Lunsford.
In 1987, UPMC acquired its first Leksell Gamma Knife system. Radiosurgery also is used to manage benign lesions, including acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, and skull base tumors. In addition, gamma knife surgery has been used to eliminate arteriovenous malformations.
Since 1987, the number of patients receiving gamma knife surgery at UPMC has increased from 150 patients annually to between 650 and 700 patients per year using both of the two gamma knife units at the UPMC Center for Image Guided Neurosurgery. The UPMC Center's staff now includes four neurosurgeons, three radiation oncologists, and four medical physicists. The medical center's most recent advance was the 2007 acquisition of Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, the fifth generation and most sophisticated radiosurgery system on the market.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC Media Relations (12/22/09)
PR Newswire (12/22/09)
WRCB TV (12/22/09)
Center for Image-Guided Neurosurgery
Bio: Dr. Douglas Kondziolka