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Study reports innovative combination of minimally invasive procedures Laser Interstitial Thermotherapy (LITT) & ‘mini’ craniotomy for treating ‘inoperable’ brain tumors

News Release

Department of Marketing and Communications
11100 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

Date Oct. 3, 2016

Contacts George Stamatis

Phone 216.844.3667


Results reported by University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Neurosurgeon Andrew Sloan, MD & colleagues

CLEVELAND -- A new paper in the October issue of the journal Neurosurgical Focus finds the use of laser beneficial for the removal of large, “inoperable” glioblastoma (GBM) and other types of brain tumors. The paper is authored by Andrew Sloan, MD, and colleagues from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. (The paper can be found: A video abstract about it can be found:

Dr. Sloan and other investigators at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center led the first in human trials, published in 2013, of a procedure with laser interstitial thermotherapy (LITT), a minimally invasive approach using a laser to “cook” a tumor through a tiny hole in the scalp and bone and the intra-operative MRI (iMRI) to fine tune the treatment rather than the surgeon’s direct vision.

However, one problem that he and other surgeons faced was tumor swelling. While LITT was successful for brain tumors smaller than the size of a golf ball, larger tumors often swelled following LITT, sometimes threatening the life of the patient.

This was initially disappointing to Dr. Sloan as these larger tumors, especially “butterfly” gliomas, usually considered inoperable using conventional approaches, were the very ones he had hoped LITT would allow him to treat.

But during an operation to remove the swelling, Dr. Sloan made a surprising finding. The cooked tumor, rather than being tense and bloody as he expected, was soft, and its blood supply had been clotted off. This gave him the idea that he could treat even the larger inoperable tumors safely with LITT if he combined it with a very small craniotomy (a small opening in the head) which would allow him to “suck out” the cooked tumor to prevent swelling.

The Neurosurgical Focus paper (and an accompanying video) describe this treatment on 10 patients who had difficult-to-access malignant tumors. The tumors had a median volume of 38 cc. Eight patients had GBMs including “butterfly GBMs,” one had previously treated GBM, and one had a melanoma brain metastasis. GBM is the deadliest of brain tumors and patients with them have a very poor prognosis. Since the study, six patients remain alive and four have died.

“I am very excited by the results of this study. This procedure is a new option for patients with these large malignant tumors,” said Dr. Sloan. “We have seen similar results and overall survival compared to LITT procedures performed in patients with smaller lesions and with lower risk.”

“We feel with further studies, LITT will continue to develop into a safer, more user-friendly technique that may help remove more of these deadly tumors than surgery alone can accomplish,” said Dr. Sloan.

Dr. Sloan directs the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at UH Cleveland Medical Center and holds the Peter D. Cristal Chair of Neurosurgical Oncology and is Vice Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UH and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also Professor of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Other authors on the study are James Wright, MD, Jessey Chugh, MD, Christina Wright, MD, Jeffrey Sunshine, MD, Fernando Alonso, MD, Alia Hdeib, MD, Haley Gittleman, and Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH Cleveland Medical Center was formerly known as UH Case Medical Center until September of this year.


Dr. Sloan's video abstract for the article "Laser interstitial thermal therapy followed by minimal-access transsulcal resection for the treatment of large and difficult to access brain tumors" by Wright et al., in the October 2016 issue of Neurosurgical Focus can be viewed at


Dr. Sloan’s work on this study also was supported by the Peter D. Cristal Chair in Neurosurgical Oncology and the Kimble Family Foundation to the Department of Neurosurgery at UH Cleveland Medical Center.


About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 40 outpatient health centers and 200 physician offices in 15 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located on a 35-acre campus in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is the second largest employer in northern Ohio with 26,000 employees. For more information, go to