MRI-guided laser interstitial thermotherapy pioneers, Monteris Medical, announces that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has expanded its medical coverage policy enabling access to the minimally invasive surgical option using laser ablation for brain tumor patients when medically necessary.
This decision extends the medical coverage issued by BCBSNC in February 2020, that provides coverage of MRI-guided laser ablation for patients with epilepsy when certain established medical criteria are met. This comprehensive coverage decision by BCBSNC represents continued momentum from insurance providers that have recognized the value of laser ablation as a minimally invasive alternative for patients and their physicians who are faced with the need for brain surgery, but for whom a traditional open brain surgery approach may not be appropriate.
Many patients with brain tumors face situations in which traditional open brain surgery is either not possible, or not the preferred approach. In addition, many drug-resistant epilepsy patients may be candidates for surgical intervention when their seizures are not controlled with medication. The NeuroBlate laser ablation system is a tool used to destroy targeted tissue in the brain and provides a minimally invasive alternative to these patients and their physicians. Laser ablation offers the ability to target the destruction of the identified tissue, while often shortening time in the hospital, reducing utilization of intensive care units, and improving the patient’s recovery from the procedure.
“This comprehensive coverage policy issued by BCBSNC represents an important step forward in creating expanded access for patients and physicians dealing with these difficult diagnoses,” said Martin J. Emerson, president and chief executive officer of Monteris Medical. “The forward momentum we’ve seen by other insurance providers, including Aetna and Anthem BCBS, demonstrates that a minimally invasive procedure like LITT, supported by a growing body of clinical evidence, is a critically important option for people suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy and brain tumors.”
The BCBSNC policy noted proposed advantages of MRI-guided laser ablation technology over craniotomy for resection due to decreased morbidity from a minimally invasive procedure, faster recovery time, shorter hospital and intensive care stay, an ability to access lesions not amenable to surgery, and presents an alternative to surgery for patients with significant comorbidities.
“This action by BCBSNC represents a significant win for patients we see every day at Duke that don’t otherwise have good surgical options due to the location of their tumor, recurrence, or their relative inability to undergo an open procedure,” said Dr. Peter Fecci, neurosurgeon and director of the Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis in Durham, N.C. “LITT has become an absolute staple of what we do at Duke to fulfill a clinical need for patients. I am also very appreciative of the collaborative efforts of the medical directors at BCBSNC.”
NeuroBlate is the only minimally invasive, robotic, laser ablation tool that uses MRI-guided surgical ablation technology designed specifically for use in the brain. Unlike a craniotomy, in which part of the bone from the skull is removed and then replaced with multiple sutures, the NeuroBlate procedure is performed through a small hole in the skull about the diameter of a pencil. After the procedure, the skin is usually closed with one or two sutures, and the patient can return home after a short hospital stay.
To date, more than 3,000 procedures have been performed with the NeuroBlate System at more than 80 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.