What is a gamma tile?

Answered by Edward Huber

A GammaTile is a medical device that has been approved by the FDA for use in treating brain tumors. It consists of a small collagen tile, about the size of a postage stamp, which contains four cesium-131 (Cs-131) radiation-emitting seeds. These seeds are placed directly into the brain cavity immediately after a tumor has been surgically removed.

The purpose of the GammaTile is to deliver localized radiation therapy to the area where the tumor was located. By placing the radiation-emitting seeds directly into the brain, it allows for targeted treatment, while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissues.

The collagen tile itself serves as a scaffold for the seeds, helping to keep them in place and ensuring that the radiation is delivered precisely to the desired area. The collagen material is biocompatible, meaning it is well-tolerated by the body and will eventually be absorbed.

One of the advantages of the GammaTile is that it provides continuous radiation therapy over the course of several months. This is important because it helps to eliminate any remaining tumor cells that may not have been completely removed during surgery. The seeds emit radiation at a low dose rate, which allows for prolonged treatment without causing excessive damage to healthy tissues.

The use of cesium-131 in the GammaTile is significant because it is a highly effective radiation source for treating brain tumors. It has a relatively short half-life, meaning it decays quickly, reducing the risk of long-term radiation exposure. Additionally, cesium-131 emits a combination of gamma rays and beta particles, which are both effective in killing cancer cells.

The placement of the GammaTile is typically performed by a neurosurgeon immediately following tumor resection. The surgeon carefully positions the collagen tile in the cavity left by the tumor, ensuring that it covers the entire area where the tumor was located. The seeds are then placed within the collagen tile, and the incision is closed.

Patients who receive a GammaTile may experience some side effects, such as temporary swelling or redness at the surgical site, but these are generally mild and resolve over time. The radiation therapy delivered by the GammaTile is designed to target only the tumor bed, minimizing the risk of damage to healthy brain tissue.

In my experience, the use of the GammaTile has been a significant advancement in the treatment of brain tumors. It allows for targeted radiation therapy that can be delivered over an extended period, providing a higher likelihood of eliminating any remaining cancer cells. The convenience of having the radiation source already in place during surgery also eliminates the need for additional treatment sessions, reducing the overall burden on the patient.

The GammaTile is an innovative and effective treatment option for brain tumors. Its ability to deliver localized radiation therapy while minimizing damage to healthy tissues makes it a valuable tool in the fight against cancer.