Local News

Special Technology Gets Rid Of Tumors Without Making Incision

Posted January 30, 2003 3:31 a.m. EST

— Doctors have a new tool that will allow them to remove tumors without cutting into the skin.

A Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center patient recently was treated using this new technology. These days, Mary Ann Brinkman has no trouble getting around, but that was not the case a few months ago. Brinkman had a brain tumor. It was not cancerous, but it did affect her balance.

Since surgery was not an option, doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center used a gamma knife. It delivers hundreds of radioactive gamma rays to the tumor without harming normal tissue.

There is no incision, no anesthesia and no long hospital stay. Radiation oncologist Dr. Edward Shaw said it is a power weapon against brain tumors.

"They may or may not completely shrink away. The symptoms will often continue to improve," he said.

In most cases, the tumor does not grow back.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time, they are controlled by the gamma knife treatment," he said.

So far, that is the case for Brinkman. Her tumor is shrinking, and she is feeling a lot more steady.

"I can walk from my house out to the barn, which is a good 450 feet in the dark and not trip and fall and be afraid," she said. "I'm an active person. I like to do things and go places."

Wake Forest has the only gamma knife in North Carolina. Patients usually go home within a day. In most cases, they can immediately go back to normal activities.