Hyperthermia treatment for brain tumors (also called laser interstitial thermal therapy) is a new procedure that allows treats previously inoperable cancers by applying laser energy directly to the cancer cells. The treatment dramatically reduces the trauma and recovery time necessary for tumor removal.
Surgeons visualize and control the treatment procedure in real-time with the assistance of intraoperative MRI.
Washington University neurosurgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are among the first in the U.S. to treat brain tumor patients with this new minimally invasive tool.
The tool, Monteris AutoLITT system, received FDA approval for neurosurgical use in May 2009. Using a high-intensity laser probe inserted into the brain, cancer cells are destroyed with heat from within the tumor, leaving surrounding tissue undamaged.
Hyperthermia Treatment Procedure
The treatment begins with an incision in the scalp. Next, physicians drill a small hole in the skull and insert the probe. MRI scans are then used to guide the tip of the probe into the tumor.
The probe heats tissue in the direction of the tumor while cooling in other directions to protect healthy tissue. Courtesy Monteris Medical.
Once the probe is in place, heat is applied to the cancerous cells with the laser, using a mirror on the end of the probe to direct the beam. The MRI unit lets surgeons monitor the effects of treatments in real time, which allows them to apply heat precisely to the edge of the tumor without crossing over into healthy tissue.
Treating the Toughest Brain Tumors
For patients with recurring brain tumors or tumors located deep in the brain in a hard-to-reach location, standard tumor removal surgery may be impossible. With MRI-guided hyperthermia treatment, neurosurgeons at Barnes-Jewish are able to offer a treatment for patients with tumors that were previously deemed inoperable. In the appropriate cases, it offers hope to patients who had few or no options before.
For a referral to a Washington University neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.