Three women first in South Africa to receive groundbreaking surgery

Neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist, Dr Dheerendra Prasad of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York, radiation oncologist, Dr Sylvia Rodrigue; patient Melanie Thomson and neurosurgeon Dr Frans Swart. Thomson, who suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, was one of the first patients to receive Gamma Knife Icon treatment at Netcare Milpark Hospital. Photo: Supplied

 

On 6 July, three women suffering from a cranial condition were among the first to undergo treatment with the highly advanced Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, which was recently made available in South Africa at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

The cutting edge radio-surgical technology, Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, is used in the treatment of selected brain tumours, head and neck tumours, vascular malformations in the brain as well as functional disorders and was installed at the hospital in May.

“The introduction of Gamma Knife Icon is a tremendously exciting advancement in medicine in our country, as this is the most precise radiosurgery device on the market internationally,” said Dr Maurizio Zorio, who is a neurosurgeon at the hospital. “The technology delivers powerful doses of precision-targeted radiation that acts as a surgeon’s ‘scalpel’. “This greatly reduces many of the risks associated with traditional cranial surgery as it enables us to consistently limit radiation doses to healthy tissue.”

Renet Kotze, Daleen Meissenheimer and Melanie Thomson are the first women to receive treatment using the new technology.

Kotze, who was the first to receive the treatment, has a tumour growing on a nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. She said, “I have been told that this treatment has shown an exceptional success rate internationally in terms of reducing or preventing further growth of acoustic neuroma. I feel very positive, although we will only be able to assess how successful it has been in a year’s time.”

Thomson said, “I have had trigeminal neuralgia for about eight years now. The condition causes headaches and ‘spikes’ of severe pain through the jaw, cheek, and head, although each individual experiences it differently.”

Thomson’s condition made her a candidate for the non-invasive surgery. “At first it seemed a bit scary because the doctors said that I would be awake during the treatment,” she added. “First, the Gamma Knife SA team put a frame on my head, and explained that this is to ensure that your head doesn’t move during the treatment. The team put me at ease, and told me what was happening every step of the way. All I had to do was lay still for 25 minutes, it was painless and there was no sound.”

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“First, the Gamma Knife SA team put a frame on my head and explained that this is to ensure that your head doesn’t move during the treatment. The team put me at ease and told me what was happening every step of the way. All I had to do was lay still for 25 minutes, it was painless and there was no sound.”

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  AUTHOR
Staff Reporter

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