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Robotically controlled laser provides alternative to open surgery for patients with certain brain tumors, epilepsy

Jacksonville, FL —

Children and adults suffering from intractable (uncontrolled) epilepsy and certain types of brain tumors have a new option for minimally invasive treatment at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.

The Monteris NeuroBlate System requires only a small hole – about the diameter of a pencil – in the skull and operates with advanced precision to minimize the likelihood of damage to healthy brain tissue. It is now available to pediatric and adult patients who meet certain criteria.

The procedure takes place while the patient is in the intraoperative MRI (iMRI) machine. The iMRI is housed in the neurosurgical suite shared by Wolfson Children’s and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, allowing surgeons to get critical real-time information during surgery without having to transport the patient to a separate room for imaging. The surgeon, sitting at a nearby work station, guides a robotically controlled probe through the small hole in the skull. The probe delivers laser light energy to ablate, or heat and destroy, targeted tissue. The opening in the skull only requires a stitch or two to close, so scarring is minimal.

“Wolfson Children’s Hospital is committed to offering the best options and technology possible for children with intractable epilepsy and certain types of brain tumors,” said Alexandra Beier, DO, a pediatric neurosurgeon with the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, and neurosurgical director of the Pediatric Surgical Epilepsy Program at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “When you’re counseling families about doing a craniotomy versus a procedure that may only require an overnight stay in the hospital, most people would choose the shorter procedure. This is another tool that we and our colleagues at Baptist Health have in addition to more invasive surgical options.”

Only certain children with intractable epilepsy – epilepsy in which multiple medications have failed – will qualify for the NeuroBlate procedure. Neurosurgeons and neurologists work together to determine whether a patient is a candidate.

The NeuroBlate will also be used to treat certain brain tumors. In pediatric brain tumor patients, the NeuroBlate will be used primarily to treat tumors in deep locations of the brain that are difficult to access through surgery.

“This is a form of treatment that is relatively new, and it has not been available to the children of the region until now,” said Philipp Aldana, MD, medical director of the Lucy Gooding Children’s Neurosurgery Center and co-medical director of the Stys Neuroscience Institute at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“Collaborating with Wolfson Children’s Hospital allows us the opportunity to share this advanced, powerful technology with adults,” said Eric Sauvageau, MD, neurosurgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery and Baptist Neurological Institute. “This device and accompanying software will allow us to visualize the area of the brain being treated while the patient is in the iMRI, ensuring that we target specific tissue while avoiding nearby structures responsible for critical functions. Not only will the NeuroBlate add to our comprehensive armamentarium of minimally invasive tools, it will bring hope and treatment to adults with seizure disorders and complex tumors.”

The Monteris NeuroBlate and the software that helps guide the laser were funded, in part, by a $1 million gift from the Lucy Gooding Charitable Donation Trust.