A New Lease on Life: Overcoming 20 Years of Trigeminal Neuralgia with Gamma Knife Icon

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Gamma Knife Icon


For more than 20 years, Louisiana native Ana Kristof suffered from excruciating pain. “The pain affected everything, my entire life,” she said. “It was to the point that I would nearly faint every time I sneezed.”

Ana was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, considered by medical journals and sufferers alike to be “the worst pain known to man.” The sensation is often described as an electric shock across the face and can come without warning, lasting for seconds or coming in quick successions. A simple touch to the skin can trigger the pain. The indiscriminate timing of the condition makes it difficult for sufferers to hold a steady job, take care of their children or even maintain daily tasks.

Ana was on the verge of losing hope after multiple unsuccessful surgeries, when she went back to her neurologist to discuss any further options for the pain. Her doctor referred her to Dr. Renee Levine, a radiation oncologist at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.

Unlike traditional surgery, Gamma Knife Icon doesn’t require cutting or incisions, and the precise radiation ensures healthy brain tissue is unaffected by the treatment. Pain relief can occur immediately or over a period of weeks – even for more severe cases, such as Ana’s.

“Dr. Levine immediately ran with my case – consulting with additional experts, presenting my case at a tumor conference. She knew the pain I was in and wanted to do everything in her power to help me.”

With the support of Dr. Levine and the Cancer Center team, Ana successfully underwent treatment in October 2016. The procedure was done in just a few hours, and she was able to go home without incisions or recovery period.

Now, months later, Ana is living a normal, independent, pain-free life.

“It’s been like going from total darkness to light,” she shared. “My grandson wanted to dance, and before I knew it we had spent an hour dancing. He looked at his mom and said, ‘Mom, you see it’s okay. I can hug Nanny.’ That’s when I realized I’m going to be okay.”

Click here to learn more about Gamma Knife Icon.

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