What is Gliasite?

Gliasite is a procedure that follows the surgical removal of malignant brain tumors. It delivers radiation to delicate parts of the brain.

Once a tumor has been removed, a Gliasite balloon catheter is inserted into the remaining cavity. The catheter stays in the cavity for several days until the patient has recovered from surgery. It is then slowly filled with a solution of liquid radiation called Iotrex.

The Iotrex radiation is delivered over the course of about a week. The radiotherapy works through the balloon on the edges of the tumor cavity, where future tumors are most likely to develop.

How Common Are Malignant Brain Tumors?

According to the American Cancer Society, about 17,000 people a year are diagnosed with tumors that originate in the brain (primary tumors), and about 160,000 are diagnosed with tumors that start elsewhere in the body and move (metastasize) to the brain.

How are Brain Tumors Normally Treated?

Treatment depends on the size, type and location of the tumor, and on the patient's age and general health.

Tumors are often difficult to remove because they tend to spread to healthy parts of the brain. Surgeons typically try to remove as much of the tumor as possible, and then treat the surrounding areas with radiation therapy and, sometimes, chemotherapy. Unfortunately, most cancerous tumors (80%) come back within a short period of time after removal, and they tend to return near the site of the original tumor.

What are the Benefits of Gliasite?

With standard radiation treatments, radiation travels from outside of the body to the inside of the brain where the tumor is located. This can cause damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Although traditional radiation treatments are usually successful in suppressing the growth of new tumors, they can be risky due to the potential damage to healthy tissue.

Gliasite's internal radiation device minimizes the amount of healthy tissue exposed to radiation. This reduced exposure means the reduced risk of developing the side effects that can come along with radiation. It also means that patients can usually leave the hospital within a week, whereas most patients who undergo traditional external beam radiation therapy remain hospitalized for six weeks.

What are the Risks of Gliasite?

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with Gliasite. These include possible bleeding and the development of scar tissue in the brain, leakage of radioactive material from the balloon catheter and difficulty removing the catheter from the brain following the procedure. Another risk involves infection at the site where the catheter is inserted.

Our surgeons are trained to deal with any complications that may develop during the course of the procedure. For many patients the benefits of Gliasite therapy are immeasurable.

Who are Good Candidates for the Gliasite Procedure?

  • Gliasite patients must be at least 18 years old.

  • Because the radiation solution may be harmful to a developing fetus or nursing infant, Gliasite patients cannot be pregnant or breastfeeding. Both men and women must be willing to practice an effective method of birth control while they are receiving Gliasite therapy.

  • Patients who have received prior radiation therapy must wait three months before starting Gliasite.

  • Patients who have multiple tumors that are close together or whose tumors are too large may not be able to receive Gliasite.

  • Patients with medical conditions such as serious infections, uncontrolled hypertension or cardiac problems may not be eligible for Gliasite.

  • Patients with prior malignancies must be disease free for over five years.

Why Should Patients Come to the University of Maryland Medical Center for the Gliasite Procedure?

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, a team of physicians collaborate to offer patients the most comprehensive care possible. A team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and neurointerventional radiologists discuss each patient and plan the most appropriate treatment and therapies according to the patients' individual needs.

Who Should Patients Contact for More Information about Gliasite?

To schedule a consult with a neurosurgeon, call 1-800-492-5538.

For more information about the University of Maryland Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, or to make an appointment, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).