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Newer Brain Tumor Treatments

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TT Fields (Tumor-Treating Fields)

In 2011 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a portable TT fields device for treating certain aggressive brain tumors including brain metastases. The device consists of a portable battery pack and an array of transducers worn on the scalp. Mild electrical fields pulse through the skin of the scalp and interrupt cancer cells’ ability to divide. This “field of interruption” may slow down a tumor’s growth and its ability to spread.  Patients typically use the device for 18 hours each day. TT fields therapy acts upon cancerous tumor cells. Because the treatment does not destroy healthy cells, it does not cause side effects typical of chemotherapy and radiation such as pain, nausea, fatigue or diarrhea.

Read more about TT fields in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.

mri guided laser ablation brain tumor treatment

MRI-Guided Laser Ablation

MRI-guided laser ablation (such as Visualase®) is a minimally invasive neurosurgical technique for a number of diseases, including brain tumors. The treatment uses lasers to target and destroy the tumor. The procedure can help surgeons address the most serious brain tumors, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and brain tumors that are located close to sensitive structures in the brain, making them hard to access through traditional open surgery (craniotomy). MRI-guided laser ablation can reduce pain after surgery and shorten recovery time compared to that associated with craniotomy.

Read more about MRI-guided laser ablation in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.

tubular retractor system minimally invasive brain tumor treatment

Tubular Retractor System for Neurosurgery

The tubular retractor system is a new minimally invasive procedure that can help your neurosurgeon manage several serious conditions, including brain tumors. 

A retractor is any instrument that moves or holds tissue so a surgeon can reach a particular area. The tubular retractor is valuable because it moves aside the folds and delicate tissues of the brain with less risk of damage than other surgical methods – it displaces the tissue instead of cutting through it.

The tubular retractor system can be especially useful in situations when a tumor is located deep in the brain. It also offers a less invasive option than traditional open surgery (craniotomy).

How the Tubular Retractor System Works

  • The surgeon makes a small incision in the skin and a small opening in the skull.
  • Computerized navigation helps the surgeon move the tubular retractor gently through the white matter of the brain and gain access to the tumor.
  • The surgeon works through the tubular retractor to extract the tumor. A fiber optic camera can be used to help visualize the area.
  • Once the problem is corrected, the surgical team withdraws the instruments, removes the tubular retractor and closes the small incision.

Because the tubular retractor system involves a smaller incision and less disruption to the brain tissue, it may involve less risk, less discomfort and a shorter recovery period than those associated with traditional surgery. Your Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon will work with you to choose the most appropriate surgical procedure for your individual situation.

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