CLEVELAND, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Lasers can be used to remove large, "inoperable" brain tumors, including glioblastoma, with the help of a "mini" craniotomy, according to a new study conducted by University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
The new study was authored by Dr. Andrew Sloan and published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Dr. Sloan and other researchers began human trials with laser interstitial thermotherapy in 2013, and found the technique to be highly effective in "cooking" smaller tumors and making them easier for surgeons to remove.
Despite early success with tumors smaller than the size of a golf ball, Sloan and his colleagues found the procedure made removing larger tumors more challenging. As a result of the laser treatment, larger tumors grew in size, making them even more life-threatening for patients. In an operation to remove the swelling, Dr. Sloan discovered the tumors were not dense with blood, but soft, and the blood had clotted.
Sloan determined the laser treatment could be combined with a very small craniotomy. By creating a small opening in the skull, he was able to "suck out" the cooked tumor to prevent further swelling.
To explore this approach, the study's authors examined minimally invasive procedures conducted on 10 patients with a median age of 65 years. They concluded the pairing of laser interstitial thermaltherapy and a minimally invasive transsulcal resection is a novel option for patients with larger brain tumors.
"I am very excited by the results of this study. This procedure is a new option for patients with these large malignant tumors," Sloan said in a news release. "We feel with further studies, LITT will continue to develop into a safer, more user-friendly technique that may help remove more of these deadly tumors than surgery alone can accomplish."