Seeing Brain Tumors in a New Light

A new treatment creates better visualization of abnormal tumor cells.

As seen in the December 2020 Issue of Advancing Care.

Neurosurgeons at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), are the first in the Hudson Valley to utilize a new treatment that helps to identify and remove brain tumor tissue.

The treatment is an FDA-approved liquid solution called Gleolan. Ingested by the patient two to four hours before neurosurgery, Gleolan is preferentially absorbed by brain tumors. Then, 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 contrast makes it easier for a neurosurgeon to distinguish a tumor from healthy tissue during brain tumor operations.

“Gliomas, glioblastomas and similar brain tumors are notoriously difficult to remove because they can look very similar to a patient’s normal, surrounding tissue,” says 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 them more completely, while sparing important tissue in the surrounding brain. This leads to fewer post-operative complications and reduces the need for additional procedures.”

Simon Hanft, MD, Chief of Neurosurgical Oncology at Westchester Medical Center

Defined Margins: Achieving Complete Tumor Removal

In a recent neuro-oncology case involving the use of Gleolan, a patient came to Westchester Medical Center with a large glioblastoma (GBM) in the left temporal lobe.

“We knew, based on the tumor’s size and location, that it would be challenging to remove, but the coloration of the brain tumor was very easily seen with the use of Gleolan and our special filters,” Dr. Hanft explains. “This was especially helpful at the tumor’s margins where remnants of a tumor sometimes can be left behind because they are hard to distinguish from healthy tissue. We were able to utilize the Gleolan, filters and traditional illumination to achieve complete tumor removal.”

Hanft concludes: “Since the goal in glioma surgery is safe, maximal removal, I foresee the use of Gleolan becoming a standard for tumor resections.”

Neuroscience Care Technologies – Exclusively at Westchester Medical Center

Along with Gleolan, technologies in use nowhere else in the Hudson Valley include artificial intelligence for advanced stroke detection; three-dimensional, high-definition operating microscopes; flow diverter stents used in the care of cerebral aneurysms; and the Hudson Valley’s only hybrid-operating room where surgeons and interventionists can perform procedures using advanced imaging equipment.

The Region’s Most Advanced Stroke Treatment

Westchester Medical Center was recently certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a designation that represents the most advanced stroke treatment available in a given geographic area. With this certification, Westchester Medical Center is now the only hospital in New York’s Hudson Valley region recognized by the New York State Department of Health as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.


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. To learn more, please call 914.493.2363 or visit westchestermedicalcenter.org/neurosurgical-oncology.