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Brain Tumor Treatment

Khaled Aziz, MD

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Brain Tumor Treatment at WPAHS

Novel Brain Tumor Treatment

It’s no secret that brain tumors and cerebral aneurysms are bad news. But thanks to highly advanced, specialized techniques offered at West Penn Allegheny Health System’s Neuroscience Institute, patients afflicted by brain tumors or cerebral aneurysms can expect good news when it comes to treatment options. The Institute offers two unique treatments, in addition to its full complement of traditional neurosurgical techniques.

The first, the eyelid minicraniotomy, is a complex, minimally invasive procedure that allows surgeons to repair cerebral aneurysms and remove brain tumors through a tiny eyelid incision. Instead of traditional surgery, which involves a major forehead incision and lengthy recovery, this technique enables patients to leave the hospital in just a few days, with little evidence that a major surgery has been performed.  The Neuroscience Institute is just one of two facilities in the country that offers patients this procedure.

Neurosurgeons at the Institute’s Allegheny General Hospital location are also exploring another novel technique to aid in the removal of brain tumors. Allegheny General is just one of four medical centers in the U.S. approved by the FDA to investigate the use of a drug that illuminates brain tumor cells. Removing as much as possible of a tumor is critical to patients’ survival, but many tumors are particularly challenging to remove, since malignant cells produce indistinct borders between normal and diseased tissue. The experimental drug is administered orally three hours before surgery. It is converted into a fluorescent substance when it enters the tumor cells, and under the special ultra-violet blue light surgical microscope used, it makes the diseased tissue glow red.  In Germany, where the drug is already approved for use in brain surgery, researchers have shown that nearly twice as many patients receiving fluorescence-guided surgery had their tumors completely removed. 

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