Radio-guided Neurosurgery using a gamma probe for the treatment of brain cancer is the new technology developed by doctors at The Manipal Institute of Neurological Disorders at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore. The new technique effectively removes the brain tumor.
Removal of brain tumors surgically leads to enormous risks and the success of the tumor removal entirely depends on the surgeon's skill. By using the new technology the effectiveness of tumor removal is highly successful.
The new procedure is done by inserting intravenously, an isotope called technetium-99m, which cruises on a molecule called Sestemabi, in the patient. The isotope then latches onto the cancerous tissue in the brain, making it glow like a light in the darkness. By using the glow caused by the gamma probe the brain tumor is detected and removed effectively.
Radioisotopes are elements such as carbon or technetium, which have been manipulated, in a nuclear device called cyclotoron. These devices make the molecules emit small and harmless amounts of radioactivity. When injected into patients with brain tumors, the isotope concentrates within the tumor. A Geiger-counter like device, equipped with an extremely sensitive probe, can pick up these signals during surgery.
"The biggest threat to a patient with a brain tumor is that some of the cancerous tissue will escape the notice of the surgeon, because in some cases the tumor closely resembles the brain. In case normal brain tissue is operated or removed, it might cause severe and irreparable damage. The use of Sentinel Node probe and help from Nuclear Medicine now enables to differentiate tumor from brain tissue with confidence," Dr. Rao said.
Dr. R.V. Parameshwaran, head of the department of nuclear medicine at Manipal Hospital, says, "Many brain tumors intensely absorb technetium 99m and a three dimensional image of the brain is obtained." Using the new method the neurosurgeon makes a probe around a tumor and it displays counts on the monitor and gamma counts emits an acoustic signals as the radioactive isotopes are detected. Using these signals the neurosurgeon carefully removes the tumor, which is guided by the probe.