California’s First MRI-Guided Laser Treatment Used for Brain Cancer

Now, through the use of MRI guidance, new MRI technology can safely destroy tumors located deep in the patient’s brain. By using novel MRI-guided laser technology, neurosurgeons at UC San Diego Health System have successfully treated a malignant tumor deep inside a patient’s brain. This is the first time the laser-based treatment has been performed in the state of California.

Traditionally, a surgeon would have to remove a considerable amount of healthy brain tissue in order to access a tumor in this region. Now, surgeons can preserve healthy brain tissue while treating tumors that would otherwise be inoperable. Many types of brain tumors can be treated using this laser technology, and it’s a minimally invasive approach to destroy the brain tumor while maintaining the highest quality of life for patients.

The technique, called laser interstitial thermal therapy, is performed inside an MRI machine while the patient is under general anesthesia. A dime-sized hole is created in the patient’s skull, and a laser probe is inserted into the tumor under real-time MRI monitoring and computer guidance. When the tumor is reached, the beam is activated, which heats and destroys tumor cells.

Also used to treat epileptic disorders and chronic inflammation caused by ionizing radiation, the procedures can be performed in conventional operating rooms and is a minimally invasive approach for treating brain tumors of all shapes and sizes. 

If you're interested in becoming an active part of medicine and MRI technology, consider becoming an MRI technologist at CNI College.