Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute Incorporates Next Generation of Surgery

FALLS CHURCH, VA– An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor with another nearly 90,000 receiving that news this year. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, the average survival rate for malignant brain tumor patients is only 35 percent. In an effort to beat those odds, the Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute has acquired Northern Virginia’s only MRI-guided, minimally invasive laser ablation system. This system allows neurosurgeons to access and monitor the ablation process, or tissue removal procedure, in real-time. On April 11, the first surgery was successfully completed on the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. Inova joins approximately 200 centers nationwide, and the first in the Northern Virginia area, to provide this cutting-edge therapy.

Dr. Mahesh Shenai, Inova Medical Group Neurosurgery Medical Director and Director of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery, says, “By bringing this novel technologyto the MRI room, we are able to successfully guide a probe in a difficult to access lesion, and destroy it with precise control and real-time visualization.” He goes on to say, “We are able to see and select the tumor in the brain, establish the desired trajectory, and visualize and irradiate it with laser beam technology.”

Last month, routine monitoring scans revealed a possible recurrence in a deep area of an Inova patients’ brain that would not be possible to access with traditional open surgery. His first brain tumor was surgically resected two years ago and he returned to normal activities. This past week, using laser interstitial thermoablation therapy (LITT), Inova board-certified neurosurgeons, Dr. Mahesh Shenai and Dr. Mateo Ziu successfully treated this 51 year old male with a suspected recurrent brain tumor. With the laser ablation system, Inova’s neurosurgeons were able to obtain a biopsy of the lesion, and then destroy it with the precise laser technology. The total incision was less than 1 cm and the patient returned home in less than two days. 

Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute Medical Director, Brain and Spine Tumor Program Dr. Mateo Ziu, relates “With introduction of the laser interstitial thermoablation therapy at Inova, we help ensure our patients have access to the latest technology in treatment of brain tumors, especially those patients previously determined to have deep tumors too difficult to surgically reach and remove. We are committed,” he continues, “to provide, world-class care for all patients with brain tumors in Northern Virginia and across the country.”

Prior methods required patients to remain in the hospital, sometimes longer than a week, as opposed to the MRI guided process we have today. Which, in addition to treating deep brain tumors, the laser ablation is also an effective option for the treatment of Epilepsy. Inova has two sites that are designated Epilepsy Centers by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers and the only centers in Northern Virginia including Inova Alexandria Hospital (level 3) and Inova Fairfax Hospital (level 4, highest).

Dr. James Ecklund, Chairman of the Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute, adds “We are happy to have the first case using the new VisualaseTM system in the region and very excited on behalf of our patients to reach this important milestone.” He goes on to say, “It is a testament to our steadfast dedication and commitment to our patients and physicians by expanding therapeutic options with new innovative techniques that provide individualized care for patients with neurological disease.”

To view an animation of the MRI-guided laser ablation system in use, click here:  

Media Contact: Tracy Connell,, 703-289-2087

About the Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute

The Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute (INSI) is a multispecialty service line offering comprehensive services for treating any condition of the brain, spine, and nervous system from medical evaluation and diagnostic testing to the most innovative minimally invasive surgical techniques. 

INSI includes all five Inova hospitals as well as a network of outpatient physician practice offices staffed by neurologists, neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, neurosurgeons, and nurses with advanced neurological training.  Located just outside of Washington, DC in Northern Virginia, with the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus as the flagship location, more information can be found at:

About Inova

Inova is Northern Virginia’s leading nonprofit healthcare provider, employing more than 18,000 team members and serving more than 2 million individuals annually through an integrated network of hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, emergency and urgent care centers, outpatient services and destination institutes such as the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, Inova Schar Cancer Institute and Inova Neuroscience and Spine Institute. Our mission is to provide world-class healthcare – every time, every touch – to each person in every community we have the privilege to serve. Founded in 1956 as the Fairfax Hospital Association, Inova has grown with its surrounding community and the region to provide a full spectrum of health services, including Northern Virginia’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Its hospitals have a total of 1,800 licensed beds.

Four of Inova’s five hospitals have received five-star rankings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; they are the only hospitals in the Washington, DC region to have earned the highest rating from the federal agency. To achieve its mission of providing world-class healthcare to a diverse community, Inova is home to prominent clinicians and scientists who drive innovation to improve patient care, prevent disease and promote wellness. More information and statistics about Inova can be found at

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