VISUALASE™: Minimally invasive treatment of brain tumours and epilepsy

Professor Ashkan and Mr Bhangoo are currently the only surgeons in the UK able to perform the Visualase® procedure for brain tumours. In this blog post they explain exactly how it works and how it is different from other treatments available.

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Visualase® 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, just a centimetre or two. 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.

Real-time MRI showing the temperature of the brain as the laser ablates the tissue.

Real-time MRI showing the temperature of the brain as the laser ablates the tissue.

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

Have a look at the video to see exactly how the Visualase™ procedure works:

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.