Father of Radiosurgery, Lars Leksell

Ellen Tan, Christina Hsing



Who is Lars Leksell?

Neurosurgery is one of the most controversial treatment processes due to its high morbidity and mortality rates. Named as the Father of Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Lars Leksell greatly contributed to the development of brain tumour treatment.


Born in a Swedish parish in 1907, Lars Leksell began his journey, studying at the medical school of Karolinska Institute. He trained under Herbet Olivecrona, an accomplished Swedish brain surgeon, and worked on electrophysiology for his doctoral thesis. In the 1950s, Lars along with scientist Borje Larsson investigated the use of proton beams and guidance devices in pinpointing targets for treatment in the brain. This exploration eventually became the crucial backbone of Lars’ discoveries in later years.



“The tools used by the surgeon must be adapted to the task and where the human brain is concerned, they cannot be too refined” -- Lars Leksell


Radiosurgery - The Gamma Knife

The first prototype of the Gamma Knife was produced in 1967. The product used an energy source in the form of Cobalt-60, and the general idea was to focus individual beams of gamma radiation to a precise focal point using a collimation system. This way, precise areas of tissue could be targeted without significant damage to nearby areas. This process was designed for functional neurological surgery, which includes treatment of patients with pain, movement disorders, and occasionally behavioural disorders.


Initially, the Gamma Knife’s objectives were mainly treating lesion generation in functional neurosurgery, cranial base tumours, and arteriovenous malformation (AVMs), which are tangles of abnormal blood vessels between the brain’s arteries and veins. Multiple versions and models of the Gamma Knife were later innovated. This includes Perfexion, a model released in 2006 by Elekta, which was founded by Lars almost 50 years ago. Read more about Elekta’s development here.


Today, 2021

Lars was one of the many contributors to the ongoing fight against brain tumours. Today, over 300,000 patients have undergone the Gamma Knife surgery, and over 35,000 patients receive the treatment each year.


Help spread Lars’ story and raise awareness for brain tumours. Biotechnology for brain treatments needs to be continuously explored and enhanced so we can ensure care can be delivered to patients in need.


Sources:

“History and Technical Overview.” Neurosurgery, University of Virginia, 10 Nov. 2015, med.virginia.edu/neurosurgery/services/gamma-knife/for-physicians/history-and-technical-overview/.


Pioneer Surgeon Lars Leksell, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, www.movementdisorders.org/MDS/About/Committees--Other-Groups/Special-Interest-Groups/Neurosurgery-Special-Interest-Group/Pioneer-Surgeon-Lars-Leksell.htm.