SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— A minimally invasive surgical option for the treatment of brain tumors and epilepsy is now available at Cottage Health’s Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute.
This is a monumental announcement for the region.
Cottage Health’s Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute is officially the first healthcare provider on the Central Coast to provide laser interstitial thermal therapy.
This fills a huge need for the Central Coast community, as patients are able to get the support they need locally and stay close to friends and family instead of having to drive hours to Los Angeles.
Also called LITT for short, the technology provides the benefits of traditional brain surgery with less risk and a shorter recovery time.
Dr. Nicole Moeyeri says this is a game changer for patients.
“They go home the next day. They don't stay in the hospital for days. They don't have as big an incision to wait for that to heal. So they really have a much better sort of quality of life immediately after the procedure is done,” said Medical Director for Neurosurgical Oncology at Cottage Health SBNI Nicole Moeyeri.
The technique uses a small laser to destroy unhealthy brain tissue. unlike traditional brain surgery, LITT does not require a large opening in the skull.
“You shave a little bit of hair. You make a small incision, and then you insert the laser probe through the bolt that I showed you on the model there versus a craniotomy you have to turn a skin flap, you have to turn a bone flap. So it's a big difference opening right in here,” said Moeyeri.
The MRI guided method creates greater precision, helping lessen the chance of harm to nearby healthy brain tissue.
Once the neurosurgeon puts the laser probe inside the tumor and the patient goes into the MRI scanner, the surgical team can observe exactly what is happening to the tumor.
This provides doctors with a huge advantage of real time imaging that they just cant get with an open craniotomy.
“ We can actually measure the temperature inside the tumor. And once it reaches a threshold, those cells will die. And and you can see the outline of where those tissues are dying. And so you can stop it. You can know exactly where you are anatomically, which is a big advantage,” said Moeyeri.
Because LITT kills unhealthy brain tissue instead of manually removing the cells, some neurosurgeons believe that it could potentially provide long term benefits in terms of tumor recurrence.
“Your immune system will respond now to those antigens that are are now taken up in that dead tissue and your immune system might go after the tumor cells in a different way than it would if you had actually physically removed that tumor,” said Moeyeri.
It’s too early to tell whether the response to treatment may actually be more effective than the traditional method, but the recovery time and risks involved are significantly more promising than that of traditional brain surgery.