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Neurosurgeon Brings One-of-a-Kind Imaging Technology to Puerto Rico to Advance Brain Tumor Surgery

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*This article is sponsored by Medexus Pharma, the company behind Gleolan (aminolevulinic acid HCI). This content is not an endorsement from the ABTA. 

At Medexus, the patient is at the heart of everything we do. And we are proud to support the ABTA and the brain tumor community through advocacy, fundraising and education. Medexus is also proud to work with healthcare providers to expand patient access to our products. Read on to hear how Dr. Miguel A. Mayol Del Valle brought Gleolan to patients in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Miguel A. Mayol Del Valle, MD, a neurosurgeon based in Puerto Rico
Miguel A. Mayol Del Valle, MD, a neurosurgeon based in Puerto Rico

Miguel A. Mayol Del Valle, MD is a neurosurgeon with extensive experience in tumor, skull base, open vascular, and trauma-related procedures. After graduating from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Dr. Mayol received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Central University of the Caribbean in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Following his residency in Puerto Rico, Dr. Mayol completed his fellowship in Neurosurgical Oncology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. His research projects have encompassed a range of topics including peripheral nerve injury repair, ultrasound-guided mandibular nerve block for awake craniotomies, and the role of microglial cytokines in human glioblastoma. 

After his fellowship at Emory University, Dr. Miguel A. Mayol Del Valle returned to Puerto Rico with his family, bringing with him more specialized knowledge, expertise, and surgical technology that may raise the bar for neurosurgical care on the island. 

"Something that I always proposed when I trained abroad was to provide excellent care in Puerto Rico," Dr. Mayol said. "That is why I bring certain technologies and new techniques, so that no patient feels, 'If I only had money to go to the mainland United States, it would have been better for me.'"

Dr. Mayol performing brain surgery.

One of the tools Dr. Mayol used in the mainland US and brought back to Puerto Rico is Gleolan (aminolevulinic acid HCl), a one-of-a-kind optical imaging agent that aids surgeons to resect the most malignant type of brain tumorcalled a glioma [a primary brain tumor that begins in the glial cells that surround and support nerve cells]. 

The agent works by lighting up the tumor in a fluorescent pink hue, making it easier for neurosurgeons to see and therefore remove as much of it as possible, which can increase the chances for better patient outcomes. 

“You better know what is a tumor and what is not. That allows us to be much more specific at the time of surgery. In the past, we did it well, but there was always the question of what is a tumor and what is a normal brain because at that interface, it is often hard to differentiate,” said Dr. Mayol.

Based on available research, it appears that the incidence of brain tumors in Puerto Rico is similar to mainland US, but Puerto Ricans do not have the same level of access to information, specialists, and treatment options. Dr. Mayol has spoken with numerous media outlets to help change this dynamic by sharing his knowledge as well as his vision for neurosurgical care in Puerto Rico. 

Dr. Mayol’s commitment and passion to share his learnings from mainland US made him somewhat of a local hero and media outlets were enthusiastic to share his story. Through interviews with Telemundo, Primera Hora and various other local outlets, Dr. Mayol’s impactful story has reached millions of people.

You can learn more and connect with Medexus by emailing GBM@medexus.com.
Picture of Jessie Schlacks

Jessie Schlacks

Jessie is Managing Editor of the bi-monthly e-newsletter MindMatters. Submit story ideas or questions to jschlacks@abta.org.