Healthcare Industry News:  Gamma Knife 

Devices Oncology Neurosurgery

 News Release - June 12, 2007

Washington Hospital Healthcare System First in the United States to Treat Patients Using the New Leksell(R) Gamma Knife Perfexion(TM)

Breakthrough Technology Removes Brain Tumors without a Single Incision

FREMONT, Calif., June 12 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Today, physicians at Washington Hospital Healthcare System will be the first hospital outside of Europe to treat patients using the new LeksellĀ® Gamma Knife Perfexion(TM), a revolutionary alternative to traditional open-brain surgery and/or daily radiation treatments, which are administered from four to six weeks. The Gamma Knife Perfexion instead uses focused doses of radiation without making a single incision to treat malignant and benign brain tumors and other brain disorders.

Susan LaRochelle, 52, the first patient to be treated, was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. At the same time, Susan learned that her cancer had also spread to her brain. A woodworker in her spare time, Susan is one of seven sisters, all of whom reside in California and who have taken turns in helping her in the weeks leading up to her procedure.

"My sisters and husband have been my biggest supporters," said Mrs. LaRochelle, a Livermore, Calif. resident. "I'm actually looking forward to having this procedure completed so I can return to spending more time with them, as I did before my diagnosis."

Because the Gamma Knife procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, Susan will be able to return home in just a few hours and can continue receiving chemotherapy treatments for her lung cancer.

"With the new Gamma Knife Perfexion, Susan's tumors can be removed without disrupting her chemotherapy, allowing us to continue to treat her primary cancer and potentially reduce its spread to other parts of her body," said David Larson, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.R., radiation oncologist and co-director of the Gamma Knife program at Washington Hospital. "With traditional whole brain radiation, the combination of treatments can result in unwanted toxicity in the body, and Susan would have had to suspend her chemotherapy treatments for her lung cancer for six weeks."

More than 192 radiation beams are focused through the Gamma Knife Perfexion's portals, converging on the target with a level of accuracy better than .3mm, or the thickness of a strand of hair, leaving nearby healthy tissue undamaged. Cumulative radiation is high; however, each individual beam has low intensity, so tissue it passes through on the way to the target is not affected.

Maria Oliveira, 55, of Hayward, Calif., came to the United States from France in 2000 and runs a janitorial service with her husband, Luis Oliveira. A passionate gardener, Maria began to have seizures in April of 2006. Doctors at Washington Hospital diagnosed her with a slow-growing, benign tumor that may have been in her brain for years. Jenny Multani, M.D., neurosurgeon at Washington Hospital, performed open-brain surgery in July 2006 to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

"Dr. Multani determined that a portion of the tumor was inoperable as a result of the sensitive location of Maria's tumor, noting a risk of paralysis if any of the surrounding tissue was disturbed," said Sandeep Kunwar, M.D., neurosurgeon and co-director of the Gamma Knife Program at Washington Hospital. "Because the Gamma Knife Perfexion is so precise, we can remove the remaining tumor, and spare the healthy surrounding tissue."

"We consider ourselves very lucky to have access to a technology like the Gamma Knife Perfexion. Without it, Maria might have less of a chance for full recovery," said Mr. Oliveira.

The Gamma Knife Perfexion's anatomical reach has been expanded to treat 100 percent of the head and neck, which allows physicians to address difficult-to-reach tumors that were not previously treatable when compared to earlier generation and current competing technologies. "A leading edge neuroscience program that includes the Gamma Knife Perfexion is unprecedented in a community hospital setting," said Nancy Farber, chief executive officer of Washington Hospital Healthcare System. "This new service, coupled with our world-renowned staff to lead the program and state-of-the-art treatment facility, supports our mission of providing the highest quality patient care to our local community residents and even patients throughout the United States and the Americas."

About Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion

Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion is a new, highly advanced device that requires no surgical incision to access the inside of the brain, thereby reducing the risk of surgical complications and eliminating the side effects and dangers of general anesthesia or standard daily radiation treatments. As an alternative to traditional open-brain surgery or daily radiotherapy, Gamma Knife Perfexion also treats additional disorders, such as metastases (secondary cancerous growths), vascular malformations (poorly formed blood vessels), trigeminal neuralgia (a nerve disorder causing severe facial pain), epilepsy (a seizure disorder) and Parkinson's disease (a degenerative nervous disorder). Clinical efficacy has been well documented across four decades, with nearly 500,000 cases treated worldwide, curing up to 95 percent in certain indications and providing data for more than 2,500 peer-reviewed publications. The latest Gamma Knife Perfexion retains proven clinical characteristics and has additional ground-breaking capabilities, such as critical patient comfort and safety features and treatment planning systems. For more information, visit

About the Taylor McAdam Bell Neuroscience Institute

The new Gamma Knife Perfexion is the cornerstone of the Taylor McAdam Bell Neuroscience Institute. Both the acquisition of Gamma Knife Perfexion and formation of the Institute were made possible through the efforts and dedication of retired, long-time Washington Hospital neurosurgeon Moses Taghioff, M.D. The Institute offers a wide range of neurology-related programs, including a Stroke Program, providing treatment for all aspects of stroke care; Brain Tumor Surgery for both benign and malignant tumors; and a Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery program that specializes in reconstructive spine surgery. The new institute is named for Mr. Bell, who was diagnosed in November 2003 with a brain tumor, in recognition for his years of service as general counsel to Washington Hospital and for his significant impact on the local community.

About Washington Hospital Healthcare System

Washington Hospital Healthcare System includes the 337-bed, acute-care general hospital; four clinics located in Fremont, Warm Springs, Newark and Union City; Washington Radiation Oncology Center; Washington Outpatient Surgery Center; Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center; Washington Outpatient Catheterization Laboratory; Washington Center for Joint Replacement; the Institute for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery; and Washington West, a complex which houses Washington Women's Center, Outpatient Imaging Center and additional outpatient hospital services and administrative facilities.

Washington Hospital is the recipient of HealthGrades' 2006 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence, which places the Hospital among the top five percent in the nation for clinical excellence. HealthGrades is the leading, nationwide health care ratings, information, and advisory services company and produces its ranking and ratings in a report released annually.

(For more information about or to set up an interview to discuss the Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion, please contact Christopher Brown, director of Community Relations, Washington Hospital Healthcare System, (510) 791-3417.)

Source: Washington Hospital

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