Gamma Knife gives brain cancer patients access to top team and technology
May 20, 2021
Toral Patel, M.D., is an Associate Professor in UT Southwestern Medical Center’s nationally ranked Department of Neurological Surgery, where she specializes in brain tumor surgery.
Dr. Patel received her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and earned her medical degree at UT Southwestern Medical School. She completed an internship in general surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, followed by a residency in neurological surgery, serving as Chief Resident. She then received advanced training in neurosurgical oncology through a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center before returning to UT Southwestern as a faculty member in 2014.
Dr. Patel’s research has garnered numerous awards, including the William F. Collins Resident Research Award, a Seed Grant from the American Medical Association, the UT Southwestern Medical Student Summer Research Award, the Louis E. Goodman Award, and the Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Award. She currently holds a patent titled “Highly penetrative nanocarriers for treatment of CNS disease” for her research into how nanoparticles can be used to carry drugs directly to the site of brain tumors.
Dr. Patel is a member of the Society for Neuro-Oncology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
She was included in D Magazine's Best Doctors list for 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Doctors now have more options than ever for treating brain tumors, such as gliomas. The techniques and technology used yesterday might no longer be the best choice of care today. As both a researcher and neurosurgeon, Toral Patel, M.D., is uniquely experienced to offer state-of-the-art care for patients with both malignant and benign brain tumors.
“As a neurosurgeon at an academic medical center, I have the opportunity to offer my patients advanced surgical care and innovative treatments. I’m also able to engage in research with colleagues. This combination supports our goal of changing the way we treat brain tumors and improving outcomes for patients,” Dr. Patel says.
An example of the advanced surgical techniques that Dr. Patel employs is the use of brain-mapping strategies to remove tumors in eloquent locations. Utilizing these techniques, tumors can be safely removed from critical language and motor regions of the brain. It’s a procedure that few surgeons can offer, but one that she does frequently.
Another emerging area that excites Dr. Patel is laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) for treating brain tumors. With this technology, a small laser is passed into the brain to thermally ablate or burn a tumor away. It’s particularly useful for brain metastases, deep gliomas, and radiation necrosis. Previously, the treatment options for these lesions were severely limited; LITT is a promising therapy for these patients.
Dr. Patel’s research centers on mechanisms for improving drug delivery to brain tumors. In the central nervous system, a barrier prevents chemotherapies from effectively moving across the blood vessels and into the tumor tissue. Her efforts focus on using nanoparticles to deliver drugs by bypassing the blood-brain barrier so that chemotherapies can more adequately get to the tumor sites.
Having trained at Johns Hopkins, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Patel has learned from some of the top surgeons in the world. Now, as one of the newest members of UT Southwestern’s Neurosurgery team, she brings these perspectives to her treatment of patients.
While advancements in the field of neurosurgery motivate Dr. Patel, helping patients navigate an often scary diagnosis and return to their normal lives is what she finds most fulfilling.
“To take patients through a tough moment in their life – and get them back on their feet – that’s the best part of my job.”