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Milestone 5,000th Patient for Columbia’s Gamma Knife Center

It’s time to celebrate! The Gamma Knife Center at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has reached a new milestone. The Center just treated its 5,000th patient!

Several Columbia neurosurgeons were on hand to witness this landmark treatment. One of those present was Dr. Michael B. Sisti who, along with Dr. Stephen R. Isaacson, started the Gamma Knife Center (known as the Center for Radiosurgery) in 1988.

The 5,000th patient, Delia, has been under Dr. Sisti’s care for a brain tumor. She says she has been blown away by Dr. Sisti’s professionalism, “He’s such a great neurosurgeon. He’s such a great guy. When I see him, I hug him.”

Dr. Sisti had this to say about treating Delia in this milestone event:

“Today our Gamma Knife team had the remarkable privilege of treating our 5,000th patient since our first use of the Gamma Knife in 1998. This milestone marks our shared long-term dedication to treat patients with some of the most challenging, deepest and inoperable conditions of the brain both non invasively and on an outpatient basis.

Although it has been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, it’s our incredible staff of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, radiation physicists and nurses that have been providing the magic on the behalf of 5,000 patients.”

Nurse Practitioner Maryellen Horan, the Gamma Knife Center’s Program Manager was also there. “I’m proud to be part of the amazing team that was able to celebrate the treatment of the 5,000th patient at the Gamma Knife Center,” she said. “You can see the evidence of the dedication of our nursing staff, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and physicists in our positive patient outcomes.”

Gamma Knife is a tool that lets surgeons treat areas inside the brain without having to open the skull or damage healthy tissue around the area. Instead of cutting like a knife blade, it directs up to 201 low-frequency beams of gamma radiation to a carefully pinpointed target. Gamma Knife can be used to treat certain types of brain tumors, as well as epilepsy, cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and other disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and acoustic neuromas.

When Columbia’s Gamma Knife Center first started treating patients, treatment involved fitting the patient’s head into a stereotactic frame that kept the head perfectly still. The Center recently underwent a $2 million upgrade to a Leksell Gamma Knife ICON system, which allows some patients to be treated using a more comfortable, face mask instead of the frame.

Delia was treated using this face mask. She says her treatment took about 40 minutes, and then she was able to walk right out. “It was painless.”

This new frameless method of treatment allows for less prep time and a quicker recovery. The ICON also opened up Gamma Knife treatment possibilities to patients who weren’t able to be fitted with the frame.

“The ICON has enabled us to treat a greater number of patients, providing both patients and caregivers with more options for optimized care. We are a leader in the industry, and I look forward to continued success of this groundbreaking program” said NP Horan.

Dr. Sisti agrees. “Today we can appreciate the significance of this treatment milestone,” he said. “But with the introduction of the frameless ICON Gamma Knife we look to an even brighter future for our next 5,000 patients.”

Columbia Neurosurgery faculty and staff at the Gamma Knife Center holding up five fingers to celebrate treatment of their 5,000th patient

Congratulations to the Gamma Knife team!

Learn more about the Gamma Knife Center here.
Learn more about Dr. Michael Sisti on his bio page here.

patient journey

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