September 15, 2005

CONTACT: Carson Clark
Office (215) 829-6799
Pager (215) 998-0583

Olivia Fermano
Office (215) 349-5653
Pager (215) 505-9701


20-Ton Robotic Gamma Knife® Installed at Pennsylvania Hospital
Penn Health System Acquires Most Powerful & Precise Technology For Incision-less Brain Surgery

(Philadelphia, PA) — A team of engineers, architects, and other experts converged on 8th and Spruce Streets the morning of September 14th, to oversee the all-day installation of the latest generation Gamma Knife® at the new Penn Gamma Knife Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. The Gamma Knife® isn’t really a knife at all, but radiosurgery – a noninvasive neurosurgical procedure that uses powerful doses of radiation to target and treat diseased brain tissue while leaving surrounding tissue intact. It has become the preferred treatment for brain tumors (malignant and benign), vascular malformations of the brain, and functional disorders such a trigeminal neuralgia and epilepsy.

The Penn Gamma Knife Center, directed by John Y. K. Lee, MD, will be the only facility in the Philadelphia region to offer the latest-generation, robotic-assisted version of a gamma knife. This state-of-the-art model is the most technologically advanced available. Its robotic attachment automatically moves patients into exactly the right position, which makes it extremely precise and user-friendly. Compared to older models, it increases patient safety, and may reduce treatment times by half.

The installation of this new technology is dramatic due to the immense size of the gamma knife and because it had to be loaded by special machinery into the side of Pennsylvania Hospital’s Spruce Building. The building then had to be closed up around it. It took three months to build the 19x24 square-foot concrete-encased vault that houses the gamma knife. Due to its tremendous weight, the vault is supported by 14 pilings that plunge 80 feet down into solid bedrock. An 8x10-foot section of the exterior wall had to be removed in order to bring in the equipment. It’s the only gamma knife center in the United States not located in a basement; but, instead, in an attractive, patient-friendly center on the ground floor level.

“As one of the largest health care providers in the Delaware Valley, we’re known at Penn for our clinical excellence and state-of-the-art treatments and technology,” said Peter LeRoux, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery for the Health System. “Penn is particularly renowned for treating all types of cancers and neurological disorders. Bringing the latest version of the Gamma Knife® is just another example of the Health System’s commitment to quality patient care.

Penn physicians are now seeing patients for Gamma Knife and will treat them in the new Gamma Knife Center starting in mid-October of 2005.



PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

This release is available online at