11:18am Sunday 05 April 2020

Revolutionary Laser Surgery Technique Offers New Hope to Brain Tumor Patients at Robert Wood Johnson


Shabbar F. Danish, M.D., Director, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Assistant Professor at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), used the Visualase, Inc., laser-assisted thermal ablation technique to operate on a patient with a recurring brain tumor after two previous surgeries and radiation did not permanently destroy the growth.

The technology is the latest addition to RWJUH and RWJMS’s growing expertise in the division of neuroscience. Dr. Danish specializes in the latest in stereotactic neurosurgery, which involves targeting small areas in the brain with techniques used to treat everything from Parkinson’s disease to brain tumors.

Susanna Denude of Riverdale, N.J., was diagnosed with an intracranial ependymoma, a tumor that grows from the cells that line the ventricles in the brain. While only six hospitals in the country offer laser-assisted thermal ablation, this is the first time in the nation that the treatment was used for an intracranial ependymoma, explains Dr. Danish.

 “This is a tool for patients with tumors who have been told they do not have other options,” Dr. Danish says about laser-assisted thermal ablation. “This is also a viable option for patients who do not want radiation therapy or general anesthesia. Additionally, we can take their hospital stay from four to seven days down to 24 hours.”

The technique involves placing a laser directly into the tumor and then guiding the laser to perform thermal ablation, or killing it with heat, while leaving the surrounding areas of the brain untouched. The entry hole that is made through the skull is about the size of the end of a pen and requires just one stitch and a small bandage following the procedure.

“In order to find the exact spot where the tumor is located, we use a GPS system for the brain so that we can identify the exact target location during laser placement, load and then map out a path in the operating room,” says Dr. Danish.

After the laser is placed in the brain, the patient is moved to an MRI unit, where the operating team can observe in real time how the brain changes temperature with respect to the laser. “It uses a light energy in order to deliver the thermal therapy,” adds Dr. Danish. Only local anesthesia is used and the patient is able to go home the day after surgery.

“What we hope for Ms. Denude is that she goes on now to live a full life,” Dr. Danish says. “She’s a very active woman.”

To learn more about RWJUH, please visit www.rwjuh.edu. For a referral to a physician affiliated with RWJUH, please call 1-888-MD-RWJUH. Follow us on Twitter at www.rwjuh.edu/twitter and Facebook at www.rwjuh.edu/facebook.

To learn more about UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, visit rwjms.umdnj.edu. Find our fan page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @UMDNJ_RWJMS.


About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 600-bed academic medical center and the principal hospital of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, NJ. Robert Wood Johnson is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. RWJUH is the first hospital in the nation to implant the AbioCor self-contained artificial heart since the device received FDA approval in 2006. RWJUH is one of only three sites in the nation approved to offer this groundbreaking technology. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (www.bmsch.org). The hospital is also a Level 1 Trauma Center and serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness. The hospital has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is ranked among the top 50 hospitals in the nation for heart and heart surgery (No. 36), cancer (No. 40) and respiratory disorders (No. 50), according to U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 ranking of “America’s Best Hospitals.” The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH among the nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers. The Leapfrog Group rated RWJUH as one of the 50 exceptional U.S. hospitals, as published in Consumers Digest magazine. Harvard University researchers, in a study commissioned by The Commonwealth Fund, identified RWJUH as one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation for clinical quality. RWJUH is also a recipient of the prestigious Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence for more than 10 consecutive years. Visit us online at www.rwjuh.edu.


About UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.

As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,800 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. 



Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital:
Peter Haigney or Cheryl Sarfaty at (732) 937-8521

UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School:
Patricia Hansen or Jennifer Forbes at (732) 235-6307

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