Two University of Louisville neurosurgeons are now providing image-guided laser technology to help patients with brain tumors and lesions.
Neurosurgeons performing the procedure are Joseph S. Neimat, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Brian J. Williams, MD, assistant professor and director of the Brain Tumor Program. Both practice with University of Louisville Physicians.
According to the National Brain Tumor Society, more than 688,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor. In the past, some tumors were considered too difficult to reach. However, the minimally invasive NeuroBlate laser is now allowing neurosurgeons to remove tumors and lesions that would traditionally be considered inoperable.
NeuroBlate laser therapy can be precisely controlled to kill abnormal tissue while doing as little harm as possible to surrounding healthy tissue. It also can be used in patients who have lesions in areas of the brain that are difficult to access by traditional open surgery without harming essential functions like speech, vision and muscle control.
The procedure is performed at Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health. The NeuroBlate System from Monteris Medical is a robotic laser technology that uses real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to precisely guide a laser probe. The laser applies heat to the growth, in controlled amounts, until the diseased tissue is destroyed. It can be used on tumors and lesions in many locations in the brain, near the surface or deep inside.
“The procedure is performed while the patient is in an MRI machine, so physicians can see the lesion and surrounding healthy tissue to apply laser energy where it is needed. The temperature of nearby healthy tissue is monitored to help ensure that it is protected as much as possible,” Neimat said. “We are thrilled to have this technology at our fingertips, to be able to help more people suffering from brain tumors and lesions.”
Rather than making a large opening in the skull, the NeuroBlate laser technology requires just a small hole, about the diameter of a pencil. The procedure is considered minimally-invasive surgery, a type of procedure that generally involves less pain, discomfort and scarring than traditional surgery, and allows patients to go home and resume normal activity sooner.
“Laser interstitial thermal therapy or ‘LITT’ offers patients suffering from difficult-to-access or recurrent brain tumors a minimally invasive option for local treatment of their disease,” Williams said. “Because the recovery is quite a bit quicker than with traditional open surgery, patients are able to expeditiously move on to radiation and chemotherapy.”
The NeuroBlate System was cleared by the FDA in April 2013 and is in use at more than 20 of the nation’s leading health care institutions. It also was licensed by Health Canada in September 2014 as the first and only minimally invasive robotic laser thermal therapy tool available in that country.
Patients seeking appointments with Neimat and Williams should contact UofL Physicians-Neurosurgery at 502-588-6000.