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2006 Press Releases
Morton Plant Mease Introduces Gamma Knife Technology to Treat Brain Tumors
11/13/2006

Pinpoint Dose of Radiation Speeds Patient Treatment and Recovery Time

CLEARWATER, Fla., (November 13, 2006) - Surgery - without a scalpel, Morton Plant Mease Health Care’s Gamma Knife at the Norm and Cele Demers Gamma Knife Center on the Morton Plant Hospital campus in Clearwater is assisting physicians in the treatment of brain tumors without an incision in the scalp or an opening in the skull. Despite its name, the radiosurgery does not involve a knife, but rather a pinpoint dose of radiation that penetrates a patient’s skull and reduces the size of brain lesions or abnormal growth of cells.

“This is the most sophisticated technology available to treat brain tumors,” said Philip K. Beauchamp, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Morton Plant Mease Health Care. “The Gamma Knife is a highly accurate and effective form of cancer therapy. This resource sends a powerful message of hope to patients with previously inoperable brain tumors.”

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an outpatient procedure that lasts approximately three hours. On the day of the treatment, an aluminum halo is attached to the patient’s head. A helmet with more than two hundred tiny openings is then placed on top of the halo and the patient is moved head first into the Gamma Knife machine, similar to a CT scan. A computer console in an adjoining room is used to aim individual beams of radiation that intersect at a single spot through the openings in the helmet.

A multidisciplinary team made up of a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist and radiation physicist is seated at the console and controls the dose of radiation while monitoring the patient via closed circuit television. The patient experiences minimal discomfort and is awake and able to communicate with physicians through the video/audio connection. The Gamma Knife can treat tumors as small as the size of a pea or approximately the size of a golf ball.

“Unlike conventional radiation therapy, this procedure typically requires only one day of treatment. The beams of radiation are precise and target abnormal cells of the tumor. Surrounding healthy tissue is not treated,” said George Gade, M.D., neurosurgeon and medical director of the Norm and Cele Demers Gamma Knife Center at Morton Plant.

In addition to Dr. Gade, the Morton Plant Mease Gamma Knife team of physicians includes Dean Gobo, M.D., neurosurgeon, William Redwood, M.D., radiation oncologist, and Bailey Pullen, Ph.D., DABR, consulting medical physicist.

The Gamma Knife also is used to treat functional and vascular disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and arteriovenous malformations or AVMs. Trigeminal neuralgia, or sudden, severe facial pain, is often caused by the compression of the trigeminal nerve within the skull by an artery or a small brain tumor. AVMs are abnormal collections of blood vessels that restrict blood flow to the brain.

There are 102 Gamma Knives in the United States. In 2005 there were approximately 41,000 new cases of primary brain tumors diagnosed in the U.S., benign and malignant.

Established in 1916, Morton Plant Hospital is a 687-bed facility. Our commitment to improving the health of everyone we serve is reflected in our community partnerships and many honors. In 2006, Morton Plant Hospital received a top national recognition for its work in open heart surgery, the Premier Award for Quality in the area of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. Since 1999 Morton Plant has been awarded 15 Top 100 Hospital designations in the areas of cardiovascular, stroke, orthopaedic and overall care by the Solucient 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks for Success. Morton Plant also has received the Gold Seal of ApprovalTM for Primary Stroke Care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and has partnered with H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida, Tampa to provide research and services for cancer patients. In 2003, the hospital was awarded Magnet Designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the most prestigious national recognition of excellence in nursing care. Morton Plant Hospital is located at 300 Pinellas Street, Clearwater, Fla., (727) 462-7000.

Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals – Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199 Phone, (727) 419-4471 Pager or Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 Phone, (727) 468-7586 Pager

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