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Deep brain tumors, epilepsy now treated with MRI-guided laser

Dr. Zulma Tovar-SpinozaPediatric neurosurgeon, Zulma Tovar-Spinoza, MD, uses a laser guided in real time by magnetic resonance imaging to offer a minimally-invasive treatment option for children with deep brain tumors or epilepsy.

“Upstate is one of the pioneers and one of the few centers in the world that is using this technique for patients with brain tumors and epilepsy,” said Tovar-Spinoza, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Upstate Golisano Children‘s Hospital. The goal is to gain control of seizures by removing or disconnecting a lesion. This procedure is proving to be safe with excellent results.

Patients wear a frame on their heads so that precise measurements can be taken before they are wheeled to the MRI suite. There, Tovar-Spinoza places a thin fiber optic applicator into the brain for what is known as "thermal ablation."

“The beauty of this technology is that you can actually see on the monitor the change of colors and temperature of the area that you are ablating,” she explained. “It‘s so precise. You know that are you preserving areas of the brain where you want to preserve function.”

Tovar-Spinoza and colleague, Yaman Eksioglu, MD, PhD, director of pediatric neurology, have designed a pioneer multistaged treatment for patients with tuberous sclerosis and epilepsy. “We are the only center in the world performing this treatment,” she said.

Patients typically are discharged from the hospital the next day.

Watch a video of this procedure

Listen to an interview with Dr. Tovar-Spinoza