Brain Surgery Equipment
Advances in brain surgery are providing hope to those with brain tumors. Because brain cancer responds so poorly to traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments, surgery has often been the only option. New advances in imaging and brain surgery equipment are giving new hope to patients with brain cancer.
Imaging is vitally important to understanding and treating a given patient's brain tumor. A surgeon must have a good understanding of the location of a tumor and the surrounding healthy brain tissues. A new imaging technique, known as BrainSUITE was developed to provide doctors with better information during an operation and aid in the removal of complex and hard-to-access tumors.
Guided Imaging with MRI
The BrainSUITE has two main parts. There is a high-intensity MRI scanner integrated with an image-guided surgical system. The MRI scanner has a wide-bore opening allowing a patient to lie on his or her side. Previously, tumors that could only be accessed from the side of the skull were not easy to scan. This special MRI system lets doctors repeat scans during the operation to get more accurate information on the location, shape and size of the tumor. This minimizes problems associated with brain tumors shifting during excision.
Accurate surgery is an important treatment for brain tumors. Traditional brain cancer treatments involving chemotherapy and radiation are often ineffective because of the “Blood-Brain Barrier”. This natural wall stops certain substances from entering the brain from the bloodstream. While the barrier is nature's way of protecting the brain from toxins that can enter the body, it presents a challenge to oncologists trying to deliver life-saving cancer-killing chemicals to brain tumors. For this reason, surgery is often the only option for treating brain tumors.
Deliver Radiation Directly to the Tumors
Stereotactic radiosurgery is another treatment method becoming more popular for brain cancer patients, especially those with previously inoperable tumors. The procedure lets doctors deliver high-energy radiation directly to tumor cells, killing cancers or stopping them from growing.
When treating a brain tumor, the neurosurgeon begins by attaching a metal frame to hold the patient's head in place. A medical specialist then uses CT, MRI or other imaging to create three-dimensional maps of the tumor, showing its exact location, size and shape.
Radiosurgery Targets Tumors
The specialist takes this map and comes up with a treatment plan. The stereotactic radiosurgery machine moves about the patient and aims radiation at the correct angle to maximize effectiveness. The beam of radiation is continuously reshaped to match the size and shape of the tumor as it changes angles. The motion protects healthy brain tissue while eradicating the tumor.
While this treatment has not been studied enough for mainstream use, the device makes it easier for doctors to treat tumors deep within the brain. The machines can pinpoint radiation within half-millimeter accuracy, almost as accurate as a scalpel. The device is also useful for attacking residual growths that might be missed during a traditional surgery.
Benefits and Savings
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a preferable alternative to surgery, turning a lengthy hospital stay into an outpatient procedure with a few follow up visits. It eliminates the risks of infection and anesthesia from traditional surgery. This procedure could revolutionize cancer treatment saving millions in the cost of cancer treatment.
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