A Minimally Invasive Approach to Brain SurgerySponsored By The University of Miami Health System

Dr. Ricardo Komotar is a neurosurgeon at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. For more information about laser ablation for patients with brain tumors, call 305-243-1000 or Click Here to visit the University of Miami’s health news blog 


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On an ordinary spring evening five years ago, Judi Trotman watched a baseball game and went to bed early. But she woke up to a new reality. Every time she tried to stand, she vomited. Judi was bed-ridden four days until a friend urged her to visit the emergency room, where she learned her flu-like symptoms were the result of a malignant brain tumor.

This was the second time Judi’s ovarian cancer had metastasized to the brain, but the new tumor was nestled deep within the brain tissue, and doctors deemed it inoperable. In an emergency procedure, Dr. Ricardo Komotar, a neurosurgeon at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, used an alternative to conventional brain surgery called laser ablation to heat and destroy Judi’s brain tumor.

“When you operate on a malignant brain tumor, the challenge is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while still maintaining quality of life,” says Dr. Komotar. “Every patient needs to be treated individually, and laser ablation is a very targeted therapy that can help patients with difficult to treat conditions.”

Laser ablation is a relatively new procedure that uses MRI technology to guide a small probe deep into the brain where it heats and destroys tumors but leaves healthy brain tissue intact. “Using the real-time MRI scanner allows you to maintain a high level of safety by protecting the normal brain tissue. At the end of the procedure, you can be sure you’ve treated the tissue you targeted,” says Dr. Komotar.

Also successful in treating epilepsy, the benefits of laser ablation include a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery. For patients with inoperable brain tumors, it is often the only treatment option available.

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The neurosurgery team at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is among the most experienced in the country with laser ablation. “The benefit of working at Sylvester is that you’re part of a comprehensive team with the latest technologies. This allows you to take optimal care of patients and maximize outcomes,” says Dr. Komotar.

Sylvester’s team approach and its positive effect on patient care made Judi’s cancer diagnosis easier to manage. “Everybody is so compassionate and patient,” she says. “From the time you walk in the door, it’s like a well-oiled wheel. The doctors spend hours with you discuss treatment options and make you feel comfortable.”

“We’ve had many patients who we’ve treated with laser ablation who were previously deemed inoperable due to the complexity and location of their tumor,” says Dr. Komotar. “It’s very satisfying as a team to be able to take come of someone like Judi, who had a very difficult condition to treat and is now disease free.”

Five years following her laser ablation procedure, Judi’s brain scans are clean and her cancer remains in remission. In this span of time she has witnessed the weddings of two of her children, the graduation of her grandson from college, and the birth of two granddaughters. “It’s a miracle,” she says.


Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on CBS-4. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

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