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Pain is usually managed with non-surgical methods such as oral medications, injections and nerve blocks. When these options fail and severe pain turns into a chronic condition, radiosurgical hypophysectomy may be the next step for you. Radiosurgical hypophysectomy can help significantly relieve pain in up to 50 percent of select patients who undergo the procedure.
What is a radiosurgical hypophysectomy?
Radiosurgical hypophysectomy is a neurosurgical procedure in which focused, high-dose radiation therapy is targeted at the pituitary gland. This procedure is done collaboratively with our partners in radiation oncology. The procedure does not require any anesthesia or implants, and does not involve directly lesioning the brain or spinal cord (changing the tissue).
Am I a candidate for radiosurgical hypophysectomy for pain management?
If medications and other therapies fail to treat your pain symptoms, your doctor considers surgical options. You may also be a candidate for radiosurgical hypophysectomy if you experience:
- Cancer pain anywhere in the body near end-of-life
What happens during a radiosurgical hypophysectomy?
Radiosurgical hypohesectoy is a stereotactic radiosurgery procedure. In preparation, your doctor will order a specialized MRI to evaluate your brain anatomy. It will be used to pinpoint the precise area of your brain to treat with radiation.
A very focused beam of radiation targets the pituitary gland. You will not feel anything and you will be able to leave the same day as the procedure. Pain relief is usually expected within one week.
What to expect after radiosurgical hypophysectomy?
Radiosurgical hypophysectomy relieves symptoms, but it is not a cure. In carefully selected patients, up to 50 percent experience immediate pain relief, although long-term efficacy is not as reliable. Therefore, this is usually reserved for patients with severe pain who may be nearing the end of treatment options for their cancer diagnosis.
Interested in radiosurgical hypophysectomy at UCLA? Get prepared for your first appointment.