Nearly 2,000 patients from across Ontario have undergone life-changing procedures since the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Family Gamma Knife Centre first opened, saving patients the commute to the United States for treatment (the only option before).
Having this innovative technology at Toronto Western Hospital has sped up recovery time for patients suffering from benign brain tumours, facial conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, movement disorders, epileptic seizures and other non-cancer specialized treatment. But it’s not without its costs.
Acclaimed actor Gordon Pinsent is one such patient.
After being diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder that causes intense pain in the eyes and head, he underwent treatment in 2008. He was fitted with a specialized metal helmet that created a stationary and exact target for the gamma rays. He lay down, placing his head into a dome-like cap with 201 holes that helped focus the gamma beams. For about 90 minutes, the 201 rays were focused on one spot, killing the cells.
Even though he was dreading the procedure, it was painless, fast and allowed him to leave the hospital the same day. “My feeling is that this is an extraordinary piece of technology,” he said.
“It’s such a unique way of treating disorders,” agrees Dr. Mojgan Hodaie, co-director of the Gamma Knife program at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.
“What’s most important is instead of the patient being in an intensive care unit at night with all kinds of monitors and so on . . . they’re home having dinner with their family,” she said.
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