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How is laser ablation used to treat brain tumors?

Nader Pouratian, MD
Neurosurgery
Laser ablation technology gives doctors the ability to access and treat some very deep-seated tumors that can be hard to reach with open-brain surgery. It is a high-tech tool for treating metastatic brain tumors (brain tumors that spread to the brain from somewhere else).

During the procedure, the neurosurgeon makes a tiny incision (about 4 millimeters) and a hole in the skull about the width of a chopstick. A thin, fiber-optic laser beam goes through that pathway to the tumor location. Real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans allows the neurosurgeon to track the area being treated.

The extremely precise technique works well on tumors that are small, inoperable or that have failed other therapies. The surgery is minimally invasive. Patients typically recover faster than with open surgery and are discharged from the hospital the next day.

This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.

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