Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Gamma Knife at Avera keeps patients closer to home

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It’s called Gamma Knife but it doesn’t involve a knife or surgery. Rather, it uses precise beams of gamma rays to treat an area of disease of growth and is most often used in the brain.

“From a radiation delivery standpoint, we have as much technology as many larger centers in the United States,” said Dr. Kyle Arneson, radiation oncologist at Avera McKennan.

Dr. Arneson says before Gamma Knife at Avera, patients needing pin-point radiation in the brain would have to travel outside of South Dakota.

“Having the comfort of being close to family, having that family support instead of being potentially hours away – it goes a long ways as far as the psyche of the patient and the ability to receive the high quality care but still comfort of home,” said Dr. Arneson.

“I’m so glad they can do everything here now because it’s a long trip to Mayo,” said Debra DuBois of Wessington.

DuBois no longer has to make the drive to Minneapolis for Gamma Knife.

“I’ve had it twice here now,” said DuBois.

She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2015 and it has since spread to her brain.

“You go in and they hook you up to a halo, and they put you in a tube, and they shoot that radiation at you and it takes care of the spots hopefully,” said DuBois.

“These small little white spots that we see in the brain are the metastatic areas of cancer,” said Dr. Arneson.

Dr. Arneson says DuBois was an excellent candidate for Gamma Knife.

“When we think about treating patients with Gamma Knife for metastatic cancer, what we’re looking for is a patient who has small lesions and limited number of lesions because this is pin-point radiation -- so we want to make sure that we’re targeting in a pin-point style to small lesions,” said Dr. Arneson.

“The last two MRI’s I’ve had, there has been no change so I haven’t had to have it again,” said DuBois.

“Gamma Knife is just one of the powerful tools that we have available here at Avera in regards to being able to offer these treatments to our patients,” said Dr. Arneson.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.