If your physician or oncologist has recently informed you that you have brain cancer or a brain tumor, then treatment will be required to either remove or shrink the tumors. Sometimes, a pinpointed treatment called gamma knife radiosurgery can be completed instead of traditional brain surgery. If your doctor has scheduled this type of procedure for you, then you will need to prepare for the treatment ahead of time. Keep reading to learn about a few things you should do.
Plan For Limited Movement
Gamma knife radiation treatment is performed in a single outpatient procedure. However, the radiosurgery will take some time to complete, and you will be unable to move for the majority of the day. When you arrive at the treatment center, an IV will be supplied to help keep you hydrated. Afterwards, a head frame will be attached to your head. The frame has four pins. Two are attached to the forehead, and two are anchored to the back of your head. This frame will need to stay in place, and this means you will be able to move only minimally once the frame is secured.
Limiting your movement is important, because 200 gamma beams will be directly aimed at your tumor once you are moved into the radiosurgery machine. To make sure the exact location is found for the treatment, an MRI is performed. CT scans and cerebral angiograms may be completed in addition to or in place of an MRI. The imaging occurs while the frame is on your head. This frame, the position of your head, and the tumor are identified in relation to one another. The gamma ray angling and positioning are then planned based on the location of these things.
Since you will either be sitting or laying in the MRI or gamma radiosurgery machine for hours at a time, make sure to bring a book with you to pass the time. Crossword puzzles, word searches, and magazines are also a good idea as well. Your physician may or may not tell you to limit your food and beverages before the procedure. If you are able to eat and drink, then stay away from coffee, tea, and other beverages that contain caffeine, so you do not have to visit the bathroom too many times. Also, try to avoid consuming anything, like cranberry juice, that may irritate the bladder.
Wash Your Head The Evening Before
Before the frame is placed on your head, the pin insertion areas will be numbed with lidocaine injections. This helps to limit your discomfort. Sterile gauze may also be placed around each insertion area to help reduce infection concerns. Alcohol may be used to clean each insertion site as well. However, the scalp should be relatively clean before you arrive for the radiosurgery appointment. This is necessary to make sure that the frame is secure as possible without thick scalp cells flaking off as the frame is fitted in place.
Your physician may give you a special scalp cleansing shampoo to use the night before your procedure. If he does not, then purchase a clarifying shampoo from your local pharmacy. Clarifying shampoos contain stronger detergents that remove the oils, styling products, and the dead skin cells from the scalp. Once you purchase the product, use it like you would your normal shampoo.
If you do not want to purchase a special shampoo, you can use apple cider vinegar and baking soda to deep clean the scalp. Sprinkle some of the baking soda on your head and use your fingers to work it into the scalp. Pour about one cup of vinegar over the top afterwards and use your hands to scrub your hair and scalp for several minutes. For more information, contact a practice such as Allegheny Brain And Spine Surgeons.