Archbold Treats 600th with Gamma Knife

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Archbold Treats 600th with
Gamma Knife

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In January 2003, Archbold Medical Center became the first South Georgia hospital to implement the amazing technology of Gamma Knife—a very precise and effective instrument that uses radiation to treat brain abnormalities.

Recently, Thomasville’s Blake Woodward became the 600th patient to be treated at Archbold’s Gamma Knife Center.

At the age of seven, Woodward was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma—a benign prolactin (hormone) secreting tumor. According to physicians, Woodward’s pituitary tumor was large enough to cause a problem, but was too small to treat surgically. Treatment with medication was prescribed to help block excess hormone secretion and shrink the tumor. However, Woodward’s inability to tolerate the medication left him with painful side effects—excruciating headaches.

Ten years after he was diagnosed with the pituitary tumor, Woodward looked to neurosurgeon Gerald Kadis, MD, for treatment options to cure the symptoms related to his pituitary abnormality.

“Blake’s prolactin levels were well over 100,” said Kadis. “We knew right away that the tumor had advanced enough to make him a perfect candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery.”

Woodward is no stranger to surgery. At age 16 he was involved in an automobile accident, which resulted in severe brain injury. He was in a coma for several months and endured over 16 surgical procedures to treat injuries related to his accident.

Woodward was delighted to learn that with Gamma Knife, there would be no cutting or bleeding, and that the procedure would be performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that he would not have to stay in the hospital overnight. Gamma Knife is often called radiosurgery, but despite the name, there is no blade or knife. The Gamma Knife is an incredibly precise computerized instrument that aims 201 beams of radiation at brain abnormalities and tumors.

Woodward arrived at Archbold at 6:30 am for his Gamma Knife treatment. He was given numbing medication, and a lightweight frame was attached to his head with only four small pins. The Gamma Knife team, a collaboration of Kadis; radiation oncologist David Saunders, MD; and physicist Ramesh Nair, PhD, took images to determine the exact size, shape and location of the tumor and identified the positioning of the 201 gamma rays in order to precisely hit the target.

As Woodward lay on a special bed he was able to talk by intercom with doctors and nurses who were constantly observing his progress. With his head frame attached to a larger helmet containing many tiny holes, the single radiation beam passed through, precisely hitting the tumor without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.

Woodward remained awake during the entire procedure.

“I felt very at ease,” said Woodward. “They even let me listen to my own Frank Sinatra CD during the surgery.”

Now 21 years old, Woodward plays a vital role in managing his family’s businesses, Bando Shoes and Clean Star. He returned to work the very next day.

“I haven’t had any headaches since I had the Gamma Knife procedure,” said Woodward. “It is by far the easiest surgery that I have ever had.”

Nearly seven years after implementing the program, the Gamma Knife Center at Archbold remains the only one of its kind in Georgia south of Atlanta and Augusta.