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Date Published: Thursday, September 3, 2020
Date Updated: Monday, July 18, 2022

Seeing Brain Tumors in a New Light: Westchester Medical Center Neurosurgeons First in Region to Use New Treatment for Brain Tumor Removal

Solution Gives Brain Tumors Distinctive Color for Easier Identification During Surgery

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VALHALLA, N.Y. (September 3, 2020) – Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is the first hospital in the Hudson Valley to utilize a new treatment that that makes it easier for neurosurgeons to identify and remove brain tumor tissue.

The treatment is an FDA-approved* liquid solution, Gleolan (aminolevulinic acid hydrochloride; 5-ALA), ingested by the patient two to four hours before neurosurgery.  Brain tumors absorb the Gleolan solution and when viewed through special filters affixed to operating room microscopes, the tumor tissue presents with a pink hue that is distinctive from normal brain tissue. This makes it easier for a neurosurgeon to distinguish tumor from healthy tissue during removal neurosurgeries.

"Gliomas, glioblastomas and similar brain tumors are notoriously difficult to remove because they can look very similar to a patient's normal, surrounding tissue," said Simon Hanft, MD, Chief of Neurosurgical Oncology at Westchester Medical Center, who has used Gleolan in successful tumor removal surgeries. "For these invasive tumors, Gleolan gives us better visualization of the abnormal tumor cells so we can remove these cells more completely and spare important tissue in the surrounding brain.  This all leads to less post-operative complications and reduces the need for additional procedures."

Westchester Medical Center's neuro-oncology program consists of specialists in neurosurgery, neuroradiology, radiation medicine, medical oncology, neurology, as well as supportive care in neuropsychology, rehabilitation medicine and social services.  Those interested in a consultation with a Westchester Medical Center neuroscience specialist should make an appointment by calling Westchester Medical Center's Brain and Spine Institute at 914.493.2363 or for more information, visit WestchesterMedicalCenter.org/Brain-and-Spine-Institute.

Brain tumors absorb Gleolan solution and fluoresce a pink hue (bottom). Westchester Medical Center is the only hospital in the Hudson Valley using Gleolan for brain tumor resections.