Treating brain lesions can be difficult. The blood-brain barrier, which normally serves to protect the brain and spinal cord from damaging chemicals getting into those structures, also keeps out many types of drugs. Surgery can be difficult and risky due to proximity to critical structures, and radiation therapy can damage healthy tissue.
Magnetic resonance (MR) image guided percutaneous laser ablation is a minimally invasive technique that allows surgeons to perform brain surgery on tumors and epileptic lesions in the brain. The advantage of this approach over other approaches for brain surgery is that it can be performed while the patient is awake, requires no radiation and no skull flap and is often performed in otherwise inoperable areas of the brain.
Before the surgical procedure, computer software first helps identify the targeted tissue. The patient is placed in the MRI, and a physician receives and reviews images to verify proper positioning of the laser applicator in the skull. The clinician then uses a laser to heat and destroy the problematic tissue while imaging the tissue being damaged in real time to ensure destruction of the problematic tissue and to avoid damaging healthy tissue, says Gerard Coté, professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Center for Remote Healthcare Technology.
The procedure can be completed in about four hours, and most patients can return home the following day. Now it is expected that with global medical device company Medtronic the MRI-guided laser system technology will become widely available to patients in need.
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