By Marty Trieschmann
July 19, 2023 | UAMS neurosurgeon Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., and radiation oncologist Richard Crownover, M.D., Ph.D., successfully performed the 1,000th Gamma Tile brain surgery in the United States last month.
Gamma Tile is a fairly new surgical procedure in which a thin collagen tile infused with radiation is embedded in the tumor cavity immediately after a brain tumor is removed. The tile quickly begins to kill any residual tumor cells that can cause the tumor to grow back.
“Cancer cells in the brain can grow and replicate very quickly, so having a treatment that can be available immediately that we can take care of in the same surgical procedure makes it much easier on the patient,” said Rodriguez, who performed the first Gamma Tile procedure in Arkansas in July 2021.
The full Gamma Tile radiation dose is released in six weeks. The collagen tile is naturally absorbed by the body, so no follow-up surgery is needed to remove them.
Gamma Tile is the first treatment for brain cancer approved by the FDA in decades. Currently, patients with newly diagnosed malignant and recurrent brain tumors are eligible for the procedure.
Rodriguez says that patients with tumors that haven’t responded to conventional treatment are excited to hear that there is a new option for them.
“Our 1000th patient had an aggressive brain tumor that returned despite surgery and previous radiation. Gamma Tile was one of the only treatment options but is only available at select hospitals that have the appropriate team to perform these complex cases.”
UAMS is the only provider of Gamma Tile in Arkansas and is among 90 hospitals across the country offering the innovative procedure.
Patients with malignant brain tumors typically undergo radiation and or chemotherapy after a tumor is removed, but recovery from surgery can take weeks.
Traditional radiation can keep the wound from healing properly, so doctors often have to wait up to six weeks before starting radiation. This is not the case for Gamma Tile, which starts working immediately after implantation during the surgery.
“Certain brain tumors can be so aggressive that the tumors can start to regrow in the time a patient is recovering from surgery,” said Rodriguez. “Gamma Tile is giving us a head start in battling brain cancer since we are delivering radiation at the time of surgery.”
Rodriguez says new studies show promising results for Gamma Tile’s effectiveness in preventing the recurrence of malignant brain tumors.
“It’s not a cure, but it’s giving patients more time.”