Staff at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have performed the state’s first application of GammaTile Therapy.

Radiation oncologist Richard Crownover, M.D., Ph.D., and neurosurgeon Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., and their care team successfully embedded the therapy into a patient and veteran from Horseshoe Bend.

CLICK HERE to see a YouTube video about the surgery.

GammaTile Therapy, marketed by GT Medical Technologies and also known as surgically targeted radiation therapy (STaRT), is designed to delay brain tumor recurrence.

It consists of a 3D-collagen tile embedded with a cesium radiation source.

GammaTile is placed in the tumor cavity at the time of surgery so that it immediately begins to target residual tumor cells with radiation while limiting the impact on healthy brain tissue.

“GammaTile Therapy is a welcome addition to our treatment options available to brain tumor patients,” said Rodriguez, who serves as the director of Neurosurgical Oncology at UAMS. “Small wafers are implanted around the tumor site when it’s removed and are slowly absorbed by the tissue as the radiation treatment is delivered.”

GammaTile Therapy, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019, is the only radiation therapy specifically designed for use in the brain and offers advantages for patients undergoing surgery for brain tumors. GammaTile begins targeting residual tumor cells immediately at the time of tumor removal surgery while avoiding damage to healthy brain tissue.

In addition, the burden of radiation treatment is reduced. Patients receive treatment while going about their daily lives and require no additional trips to the hospital or clinic for radiation therapy.

Steve Boyer, 63, was the first patient in Arkansas to receive the GammaTile Therapy. An Air Force veteran originally from Connecticut, Boyer first noticed something wrong when his leg started shaking one day at church. Diagnosis revealed a brain tumor.

Surgery to remove it was incomplete because of its location near a large blood vessel, and the tumor grew back despite receiving radiation therapy following his initial surgery.

On June 14, Boyer became the first patient in Arkansas to undergo GammaTile Therapy during a second surgery to remove the tumor.

“Mr. Boyer had a tumor grow back despite having previous surgery and radiation. In this situation we can perform another surgery, but typically we are limited with giving any further traditional radiation,” said Rodriguez.

“Thankfully, with GammaTile we can administer local radiation despite someone having received radiation in the past. Initial studies with GammaTile have been promising in reducing regrowth of brain tumors,” she added. “We are excited to provide this service to people like Mr. Boyer who have limited options and unfortunately have an aggressive tumor that can regrow in the future.”

Boyer has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering well, Rodriguez said.

In order to do this treatment, extensive planning and coordination between the radiation oncology and neurosurgery teams was required, including specialized training for the operating room and nursing staff.

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