Minnesota-developed NeuroBlate device saves brain cancer patients. But what's next?

January 27, 2019
JOE CARLSON • STAR TRIBUNE Dr. Clark Chen, a neurosurgeon at the University of Minnesota, uses a device made by Monteris Medical to remove tumors from the brainstem.

Monteris Medical studies changes in patients who have faced mortality. 

By  Star Tribune

German citizen Steffen Rhode spent a year in high school in 1998 studying as a foreign-exchange student in Fosston, Minn. He returned 20 years later with a new hole in his head.

Rhode’s return trip last year was prompted partly by his ongoing recovery from a medical procedure to kill a tumor deep in his brain with a narrow laser probe inserted in a pencil-sized tunnel in his skull. The neurosurgeon who treated him in 2017 in San Diego, Dr. Clark Chen, had recently moved to the University of Minnesota, where Rhode visited him.

Physically, Rhode’s procedure seems to have worked well. After traditional treatments failed, his procedure with a Minnesota-developed laser ablation system called NeuroBlate appears to have successfully treated Rhode’s glioblastoma using a surgical opening so narrow he didn’t need stitches afterward.

Now the challenge is surviving survival. Rhode, 37, said he feels he’s lost something that people who haven’t been forced to examine their own mortality don’t even realize they have. And with NeuroBlate patients like Rhode surviving for years after they would have most likely died without the procedure, doctors are starting to consider the long-term emotional, social and cognitive impacts.

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