Professor Ashkan and Mr Bhangoo are currently the only surgeons in the UK able to perform a procedure called Visualase ® for brain tumours. Here we will go through an overview and updates to the procedure since it has started and what the benefits may be for our patients. In a previous blog post they explain exactly how it works and how it is different from other treatments available – read the article here.
Visualase ® for brain tumours is a minimally invasive technique. These types of procedures are generally associated with reduced risk of infection to the patient as well as faster recovery times – although it is important to note that every patient is different. The procedure involves a very small incision, well under a centimetre. The surgeons, using MRI-guidance, insert a fine narrow tube into the tumour, before a laser is beamed down it. This laser gradually heats up to about 70 degrees celsius to break down and destroy the cancerous cells. The Visualase ™ system allows Prof Ashkan and Mr Bhangoo to monitor the tissue ablation in real-time. The fine tube used for the ablation is inserted using a robot to guide the tube and laser to the target area in the brain with pinpoint accuracy. The team use the Medtronic Stealth Autoguide® which delivers unparalleled accuracy with nimble movement of the machine in the operating room. The smaller size of this robot in comparison to others allows Prof Ashkan and Mr Bhangoo to perform the operation as swiftly as possible. By reducing the operating time they reduce the risk of infection and allow their patients the best possible recovery time and reduction in hospital stay.
Prof Ashkan explains: “We are able to provide MRI-guided laser ablation to our patients using the Visualase ® system, which helps us to treat tumours that were previously thought to be inoperable due to their location.”
The term ablation refers to the destruction of soft tissue (in this case the tumour) by heat and can be used to treat brain tumours as well as epilepsy. The Visualase ™ system allows Prof Ashkan and Mr Bhangoo to monitor the tissue ablation in real-time.
This technique has also been developed as a very successful treatment for epilepsy. The same process is used to ablate/heat brain tissue which is causing epileptic seizures. This procedure provides epileptic patients with a more immediate, alternative treatment option to traditional medication and surgery and brain tumour patients an option where previously there was no treatment.
One of our patients, Pablo Casasbuenas, 36, had an aggressive and deep-seated tumour which we treated with the Visualase ™ procedure in October 2018, after being told he had only a year to live. He has agreed that we can discuss his story to date.
Mr Casasbuenas, a PhD student from Richmond in London, was initially diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2014. He had radiotherapy to shrink the tumour and he also needed chemotherapy. However a scan in early 2017 showed that the tumour on the left frontal lobe had grown and there was a tiny speck in the right lobe too. He had a craniotomy on the left sided tumour and radiotherapy to target the right side. Unfortunately, the right side continued to grow. To read more about Pablo’s story click here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6499739/Pioneering-precision-laser-beam-zaps-impossible-treat-brain-tumours.html