Elekta’s upgraded non-invasive Gamma Knife is being used to treat brain tumours at one-third the cost at AIIMS.
The high-precision stereotactic radiosurgery machine, the first-of-its-kind in a government hospital, treats brain disorders by delivering a single, high dose of irradiation through a skull-shaped metallic frame that is fitted on the patient’s head.
Apart from tumours in the head and upper neck — the machine works best if the tumour is small, less than 3cm in size. It is used to treat facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia), epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
One session that costs R75,000 is usually enough to treat a tumour, though more than one session may be needed to treat bigger tumours. As there is no surgery required, there is no pain or risk of infection.
“Innovations coming out of Sweden focus on delivering quality treatment at lower cost,” said Göran Hägglund, Swedish minister for health and social affairs. Hägglund met his Indian counterpart Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Gamma Knife technology can be used to treat people in high-risk category who are unfit to undergo surgery like those aged above 65 years, or those suffering from more than one disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma.
“The machine works like a robot. The doctor just has to press the buttons and it takes care of the rest. With the old machine, settings have to be adjusted manually and one treatment session takes up to five hours. With the new machine, a session lasts between 30 minutes and one hour and healthy tissues do not get damaged,” said Dr SS Kale, in-charge, Gamma Knife Centre, AIIMS.