The UNM Division of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine has a neurosurgeon trained in the use of the Gamma Knife. UNM neurosurgeon Dr. Marcus Keep, M.D. is treating UNM patients with the Gamma Knife unit at the Gamma Knife Center of New Mexico at the Albuquerque Regional Medical Center.

"The Gamma Knife is providing a breakthrough for patients with previously inoperable brain tumors, and for some conditions where conventional neurosurgery would not be safe because of a patient's weak heart or lung condition." Said Dr. Keep, assistant professor of Neurosurgery. "It also allows for non-invasively treating functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and Parkinson's disease."

The unit is actually not a knife at all, but rather a state-of-the-art instrument that uses gamma rays to target brain tumors and blood vessel anomalies within the brain.   No skin incisions are made when using the Gamma Knife, which means the risk of complications is lower than in traditional open neurosurgery. There is no need for general anesthesia.  Since there is no actual incision, the procedure is much easier on the body with essentially no time needed for recovery.

This is outpatient major neurosurgery. Most patients arrive on the morning, and go home the same afternoon. Thus there is no need to stay in an intensive care unit for several days like one might need to recover after regular open neurosurgery.

The Gamma Knife is useful to treat a variety of neurological conditions. It treats malignant brain tumors including metastasis that come from other parts of the body such as lung or breast. It can also treat primary brain tumors like    astrocytoma, glioblastoma and oligodendroglioma.

The Gamma Knife also treats a variety of slow growing benign tumors arising from the normal structures around the brain. These include acoustic neuroma from the hearing nerves, meningioma from the brain's protective covering, and adenoma from the pituitary gland.

The Gamma Knife can also non-invasively treat trigeminal neuralgia (a severe shooting electricity-like facial pain), and the tremors of Parkinson's disease. Next year the Gamma Knife should also be able to treat arteriovenous malformations (AVM), when the necessary equipment is expected to arrive.

Dr. Keep treats all these neurological conditions with the Gamma Knife, and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia and Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Keep received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, had his residency in neurosurgery at McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute, trained in Gamma Knife at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and was Director of Research at the Gamma Knife Center of the Pacific in Honolulu before coming to Albuquerque. Dr. Keep is Board Certified in Neurosurgery in both the United States and in Canada. Appointments for Dr. Keep's Gamma Knife Clinic can be made through the UNM Division of Neurosurgery Office at 272-3401.

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Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322