It’s been a long time since there have been any major advancements in brain cancer treatment, but a new brain surgery technique for glioblastoma – one of the most common and deadliest types of brain tumors – is changing that.
The technique, called BLUE 400™, is a special surgical microscope accessory that, when used with a contrast solution, provides high-definition fluorescent images of the brain and brain tumor during surgery.
Medical imaging is used before and during brain cancer surgery to help neurosurgeons like Mark Magner, MD, (who is leading this revolutionizing new technology at The Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center) remove brain tumors. But BLUE 400™ does something previous imaging methods can’t do – show important parts of cancer cells, called tentacles, that help tumors spread and grow.
This is important because it means that, with BLUE 400™, neurosurgeons can now remove both the original and invasive parts of glioblastoma brain cancer without harming healthy brain tissue.
How does BLUE 400™ work?
BLUE 400™ attaches to a powerful surgical microscope. Right before surgery, patients drink a solution that binds to healthy brain tissue and brain tumor tissue. When viewed through the surgical microscope equipped with the BLUE 400™ tool, the solution makes healthy brain tissue appear fluorescent blue and brain tumor tissue appear fluorescent pink.
These fluorescent real-time images of the brain and brain tumor are viewed during the surgery and guide your neurosurgeon during the procedure.
What are the benefits of Blue 400™?
The pictures produced with BLUE 400™ are unlike any other images ever seen of brain cancer during surgery, and that means great things for glioblastoma patients and their families.
“The benefit of the fluorescence is that it makes the tentacles of the tumor light up vividly, which enables me to instantly see invasive tumor (and thus remove it), leaving normal, unaffected brain tissue behind,” said Magner. “This allows me to be much more aggressive in tumor resection while still limiting morbidity. With this technology, I anticipate shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries and doubled life expectancy, bringing a better quality of life to our patients," said Dr. Magner.
And as researchers discover new ways to apply fluorescence-based surgery to cancer care, more types of brain cancer and other types of cancer may also be treated with this technology – something Dr. Magner is very excited about.
“Having seen in practice how vividly the tumor fluoresces – and how easy it is to see these previously hidden tentacles – I am most excited about this and other forms of fluorescence in the works for other types of cancer, as I can see the principle of fluorescence revolutionizing all of cancer care,” said Dr. Magner. “It has been a long time since we have had a big breakthrough in brain cancer care, and it’s exciting and exhilarating to be part of this. I think everyone involved with brain cancer has been hoping for a ‘win’ for a long time, and I think we’ve got it.”
Neurosurgeons at The Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center are skilled in the use of Blue 400™ for glioblastoma treatment and were one of the first groups in the region to offer this technology. If you’d like to learn more about this game-changing treatment, click to learn more about The Christ Hospital Health Network neurosurgery program, or call 513-792-7443.