Convection-enhanced delivery for the treatment of brain tumors

Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 Oct;9(10):1519-27. doi: 10.1586/ern.09.99.


The brain is highly accessible for nutrients and oxygen, however delivery of drugs to malignant brain tumors is a very challenging task. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) has been designed to overcome some of the difficulties so that pharmacological agents that would not normally cross the BBB can be used for treatment. Drugs are delivered through one to several catheters placed stereotactically directly within the tumor mass or around the tumor or the resection cavity. Several classes of drugs are amenable to this technology including standard chemotherapeutics or novel experimental targeted drugs. The first Phase III trial for CED-delivered, molecularly targeted cytotoxin in the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme has been accomplished and demonstrated objective clinical efficacy. The lessons learned from more than a decade of attempts at exploiting CED for brain cancer treatment weigh critically for its future clinical applications. The main issues center around the type of catheters used, number of catheters and their exact placement; pharmacological formulation of drugs, prescreening patients undergoing treatment and monitoring the distribution of drugs in tumors and the tumor-infiltrated brain. It is expected that optimizing CED will make this technology a permanent addition to clinical management of brain malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Convection*
  • Drug Delivery Systems* / methods
  • Humans


  • Anticonvulsants