Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Laser Ablation Step-by-StepLearn the typical steps related to the procedure including insertion of the probe, MRI and and the ablation itself.

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Susanna DeNudeSusanna DeNude is the first patient in the nation to undergo laser ablation surgery for an intracranial ependymoma, a tumor that grows from the cells lining the ventricles of the brain.

> Read Susanna's Story

Dr. Shabbar DanishDr. Shabbar Danish explains laser ablation: what it is, conditions it treats, the steps involved and what patients can expect.

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Led by Shabbar Danish, MD, Director, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Assistant Professor at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, RWJUH now offers a new laser technology that utilizes light energy to destroy tumors within the brain, primary and metastatic on the spine, as well as target the area of the brain that is responsible for causing epileptic seizures.

Laser energy is delivered to the target area using a laser probe that is inserted directly into the target area. As light is delivered through the laser probe temperatures in the target area begin to rise, destroying the unwanted tissue.

The technology is the latest addition to Robert Wood Johnson'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.

Produced by Visualase, laser technology process has been shown to be highly precise, allowing the physician to destroy only the targeted tissue, leaving healthy surrounding tissues unharmed (+/- 1 mm).

Because these procedures are guided by MRI images, they can be more precise than conventional surgery. The procedure is minimally invasive and has been reported in medical journals to be pain free and require a shorter recovery time.

Potential Advantages of Laser Ablation Treatment

  • Since the procedure is guided by MRI images, it can be more precise than conventional surgery.
  • Recovery times, hospital stays, and complications are typically reduced due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure. It does not interfere with or disrupt other treatments.
  • The small size of the applicator enables safe access to deep seated and surgically inoperable tumors.
  • Because the laser procedure delivers no (ionizing) radiation, the procedure can be repeated multiple times - there are no dose limitations.
  • There are also no side effects typically associated with laser radiation.
  • Destroys only the target, leaving surrounding tissue unharmed (within 1 mm).
  • Can be performed with patient wide awake.
  • Requires no radiation and no brain flap.
  • Causes little or no pain during or after procedure.
  • Is minimally invasive: The laser probe is very thin, probe is less than 2 mm in diameter.
  • Entry site heals quickly with minimal scarring.
  • Usually requires only one day hospital stay.
  • Does not limit use of other treatment options.

View a step-by-step overview of the laser ablation procedure.

Laser Ablation Treatment Applications

  • Epilepsy
  • Brain tumors
    • Astrocytoma
    • Ependymoma
    • Glioblastoma
    • Meningioma
    • Schwannoma
    • Metastatic brain tumors
  • Primary and metastatic spinal tumor