September 13, 2005

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

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


Invitation to Cover:
Installation of 20-Ton Robotic Gamma Knife®

Penn Health System Acquires Most Powerful & Precise Technology For Incision-less Brain Surgery

WHAT: Catch the excitement as a team of engineers, architects, and other experts converge on 8th and Spruce Streets 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 neurological procedure that uses powerful doses of radiation to target and destroy 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 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 is dramatic due to the immense size of the gamma knife and because it has to be loaded by special machinery into the side of Pennsylvania Hospital’s Spruce Building, which will then be closed up around it. It took three months to build the 19x24 square-foot concrete-encased vault that will house the gamma knife. Due to its tremendous weight, the vault has to be 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.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 14
Beginning at 6:00 a.m. until approximately 9 a.m.
(Involves several stages to load gamma knife)

WHERE: Pennsylvania Hospital’s Spruce Building
(the Northwest corner of 8th and Spruce Sts.)

WHY: As one of the largest health care providers in the Delaware Valley, the University of Pennsylvania Health System is known for its clinical excellence and state-of-the-art treatments and technology. 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.


Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first -- was founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond. Today, the 534-bed acute care facility offers a full-range of diagnostic and therapeutic medical services and is a major teaching and clinical research institution. With a national reputation in areas such as orthopaedics, cardiac care, vascular surgery, neurosurgery, otorhinolaryngology (ENT) and urology as well as obstetrics, high-risk maternal and fetal services, neonatology, and behavioral health, the campus also includes specialty treatment centers such as the Joan Karnell Cancer Center, the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery and the PENN Neurological Institute. The hospital has over 25,000 admissions each year, including over 4,200 births. Pennsylvania Hospital is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and is located in the historic Society Hill district of Philadelphia.

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