Revolutionary technology 'cooks' brain tumor

University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center is offering new hope for patients with inoperable brain tumors or lesions previously diagnosed as untreatable through a revolutionary technology called AutoLITT which "cooks" brain tumors with an MRI-guided laser. UH becomes one of only three medical centers in the world offering AutoLITT as part of its arsenal in the fight against cancer. It is especially effective in treating glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain cancers.

Andrew E. Sloan, MD, Director of Brain Tumor & Neuro-Oncology Center in the UH Neurological Institute and the UH Ireland Cancer Center, said, "AutoLITT provides us with the ability to treat tumors that are located in difficult to reach areas. It is less invasive, may spare some patients open surgery, and may provide the benefit of surgery to some patients whose tumors were otherwise inoperable."

The UH Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology team was part of a research trial on AutoLITT. The system received clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2009. AutoLITT, which stands for Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy, combines three technologies: A laser-induced heat therapy, real-time MRI heat monitoring and minimally invasive MRI-guided surgical procedures. The MRI-guided laser allows physicians to destroy tumors without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

The AutoLITT procedure is performed with the patient in an MRI scanner, enabling surgeons to plan, steer and see in real-time the device, the heat map of the area treated by the laser and the tumor tissue that has been "cooked" or coagulated. Sloan noted, "This allows the surgeon to adjust the treatment continuously as it is delivered, which should make increased precision in treating the cancer and avoiding surrounding healthy brain tissue."

A thin probe is inserted into the tumor through a small hole in the skull. This minimally invasive method gives a pain-free alternative to traditional open surgery or radiation therapy. The probe tip emits laser energy sideways (radially) to heat tissue in one direction while cooling to remove heat from all other directions. The unidirectional focus enables the physician to steer the heat to the tumor and avoid neighboring healthy tissue. MRI signals measure temperature in and around the tumor, enabling the physician to see the tumor and the thermal damage as it occurs. The real-time feedback guides the surgeon in precisely targeting the treatment.

AutoLITT was developed by Monteris Medical, Inc., which has offices in Michigan and Manitoba. Dr. Sloan is a paid consultant for Monteris Medical and a member of the company's Medical Advisory Board.

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