The approach makes it possible to remove deeply embedded tumors through an opening as small as a dime, without damaging delicate brain tissue.
Susan Jackson was referred to Komotar, who is also assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, when she began losing her balance. Her oncologist sent the 70-year-old Sunrise resident, who was fighting metastatic lung cancer, to Komotar because of his expertise in the field of brain tumors. Jackson, an avid equestrian, said, “I knew something else was wrong.”
In Jackson’s case, the brain tumor was deeply embedded. In tumors that are hard to reach, surgeons face the challenge of getting to them without damaging surrounding delicate tissue. In this procedure, performed in May at University of Miami Hospital, Komotar was able to access Jackson’s tumor through a small opening and use brain imaging, GPS navigation technology and a tool called the NICO BrainPath to move through the natural folds and millions of delicate fibers in the brain to reach the abnormality. Once the BrainPath device is in place, it creates a passageway for surgeons to access the area and remove the tumor.
“Our goal is always to remove as much of the tumor as possible, while preserving delicate brain tissue,” said Komotar.
Because the entry is so precise, and doesn’t disturb the delicate folds of the brain, it results in a minimally invasive procedure, less pain, less trauma, a smaller incision, faster recovery — and, most importantly, it doesn’t injure the brain. “This gives us yet another pinpoint method of extracting brain tumors,” said Komotar, who leads the UM Brain Tumor Initiative and has pioneered and incorporated other groundbreaking tumor removal methods, including laser tumor ablation, awake craniotomies, fluorescence-guided tumor surgery and a cancer vaccine trial.
Jackson went home the day after her surgery and is already back to driving a car. She says she feels great, even as she resumes chemotherapy for lung cancer. “Dr. Komotar did an incredible job every step of the way. If I didn’t know I was sick, I wouldn’t know I was sick.”
Komotar said, “At Sylvester and UHealth, we are always working to use the safest, most precise method available to treat each patient. Because Susan’s lung cancer is being managed, she has a positive prognosis.”
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