MRI-guided laser treatment for brain tumor performed for the first time in California

UC Health Sciences – an otherwise inoperable brain cancer within the hypothalamus was successfully removed by the medical team led by neurosurgeon Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD, vice chairman of research, UC San Diego Division of Neurosurgery.

Dr. Chen used a technique called laser interstitial thermal therapy. This brain cancer treatment, which is impossible to carry out in a conventional operating room and requires the presence of a trained MRI team, involves the use of an MRI machine while the patient is under general anesthesia. Real time imaging of the brain tissue is used by the neurosurgeon as a guide while inserting a probe into a dime sized hole created on the patient’s skull. The laser probe is then continued on to the location of the tumor and once the mass is reached, the laser beam is stimulated, targeting the tumor cells and destroying it by heat.

“This MRI-guided laser technology helps neurosurgeons preserve healthy brain tissues”, said Chen. He further stated that as accurate as MRI can be in giving detailed images of the brain tissue, noBrain cancert known to everyone is its ability to measure and monitor the internal temperature of the brain. This property of the machine is what Chen used to have a good visualization of the brain tissue while it is being destroyed as well as adjusting the effects of the laser to be able to preserve the surrounding normal brain tissue. After the laser ablation procedure, patients are discharged a day after if without complications and are able to carry on with their activities.

There are several types of tumor cells which can be targeted by this laser technology. According to Chen, it can also be used to destroy anaplastic astrocytomas, glioblastomas, and even brain metastases. Before the procedure is done, the risk-benefit profile of the patient was assessed to be able to choose the best option for the patient’s current condition. Chen adds that his main objective for the procedures is to not only remove the existing mass and treat the individual, but also to provide the best quality of life the patient can have after the process.



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