Memphis hospital offers GammaTile procedure

Memphis hospital offers GammaTile procedure

The story below includes graphic photos from a brain surgery at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis.

Thomas Hunt’s first brain tumor was found on Dec. 28, 2020. He had surgery on Dec. 31, which was followed up by chemotherapy and radiation. However, the tumor “reared its head” in April of this year, his daughter Caroline Greggs said.

Hunt’s oncologist suggested he and his daughter talk to another physician who introduced them to something relatively new, the GammaTile, a tiny device implanted into the brain in a space a tumor used to fill which delivers targeted radiation therapy. 

“The whole concept of radiation from the inside out, rather than, you know, outside in was very interesting. And they both said he was a great candidate for it just due to his healthiness otherwise,” Greggs said.

Dr. Andy Boucher, a neurosurgeon with Semmes Murphey Clinic, left, and Kendrick Whitehead, certified surgical first assistant at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis, right, perform a craniotomy in preparation for the placement of a GammaTile on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis. Surgeons first remove the brain tumors and then fill the remaining space with the GammaTile — a device that delivers targeted radiation therapy.

Hunt, 67, had the GammaTile surgery on June 30 at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis, one of three patients who have undergone the procedure locally. Saint Francis is one of only two hospitals in Tennessee that offer the procedure, according to the company manufacturing the device. TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville is the other.

Greggs said the doctors were able to place the tiles exactly where they wanted to and the surgery had gone successfully. She said she and her father — who has some trouble speaking, which is not uncommon after major neurosurgery — were optimistic after the surgery.