A third U.S. hospital has been approved to use a new, cutting-edge technology in the fight against brain tumors. Barnes-Jewish hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, used the Monteris AutoLILT for the first time in August, 2010. The procedure was performed by neurosurgeons from Washington University.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved the Monteris AutoLILT system for neurosurgical use in May 2009. It is an MRI guided laser probe that can be directed deep into the brain to treat tumors that have previously been considered inoperable. The laser heats up and basically cooks the cells in the area, without directly damaging any of the cells nearby.
The laser probe was guided into the brain by MRI through a pencil-sized opening in the skull during the surgery at Barnes-Jewish. Because it is monitored and guided in real time, the placement is precise and only the targeted cells received the laser energy. The cancer cells then coagulate and die. This treatment gives hope to patients who previously had very limited options for treatment.
The opening in the skull required for the procedure is very small, just a pencil size rather than a large opening or flap. Because there isn’t time consuming surgical resecting involved, the procedure is much quicker than traditional neurosurgery as well. This should decrease some of the risks involved in lengthy brain surgery along with decreasing recovery time and discomfort.
Cleveland, Ohio, is the home of another hospital approved to do this procedure. According to University Hospitals September 27, 2010, “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.”
University Hospitals Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology team was part of the clinical trial on AutoLITT. The LITT stands for Laser Interstitial Therapy, and the system combines laser induced heat therapy, real time MRI heat monitoring, and MRI guidance enabling minimally invasive surgery.