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Robotic Technology for Brain Surgery

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Recently, a two-year-old patient at Riley Children’s Health was diagnosed with a brainstem tumor. After a biopsy that helped doctors formulate a treatment plan, they performed life-saving surgery. To effectively treat children with cancer, a physician needs to know the kind of tumor, but biopsies can be invasive and even dangerous.

For example, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a particularly life-threatening type of brain cancer, and it is responsible for approximately 10 percent of all childhood central nervous system tumors. DIPG is often located on the lowest part of the brain which serves as the control center for automatic functions of the body, such as breathing and heart rate. Surgical biopsies in this part of the brain are difficult and high risk.

With ROSA ONE® robotic surgical technology and precision surgical training, these surgeries are now possible. Neurosurgeons can access and remove brain tumors, which can confirm a diagnosis and provide insight into potential treatment options. Riley is the only facility in Indiana that owns and operates the ROSA for highly accurate neurosurgical procedures.

Jignesh Tailor, MD, PhD leads the surgical component of neuro-oncology care at Riley. “Using precision robotic technology, I can speak with families about the risks and benefits of considering a biopsy,” Dr. Tailor shared. “DIPG tumors are not all the same. It is very important to understand their make-up at the molecular level so that we can design effective treatments and make advances.”

The study of DIPG tumor samples has led to the identification of a mutation that usually causes the tumor, as well as the discovery of an investigational treatment that has shown promise in shrinking tumors with this specific mutation. Riley’s pediatric neuro-oncology program has been selected to serve as the only location in Indiana for the clinical research study of this treatment. Donor support enables Riley’s highly skilled specialists to use the latest technology to enhance treatments and clinical research for pediatric disease.