The Top 3 Advances in Neurosurgery

It is not known what causes brain tumors.  It is a fact, however, that more than 200,000 people in the United States each year are diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Out of that number, 40,000 of those tumors are primary brain tumors, ones that originated in the brain rather than metastasized from elsewhere in the body.  In decades past, there was little hope for patients with a brain tumor, but numerous advances in neurosurgery have brightened that prognosis considerably.

Awake Brain Surgery
It is now possible for surgeons to perform brain surgery while the patient is awake to answer questions.  It’s called awake brain surgery, or more technically, intraoperative brain mapping.  It allows the surgeon to operate on patients whose tumor may otherwise be considered inoperable.  Working closely with the neuroanesthesiologist, the surgeon stimulates the area of the brain around the tumor with small electrodes.  By asking the patient to perform such tasks as describing pictures or counting, the surgeon is able to create a map that shows him where he can safely remove tumor cells without affecting important brain functions.

Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery
Traditional brain surgery required that the surgeon make incisions in both the face and the skull.  Now many tumors can be treated with only minor incisions and some with no incisions at all.  By using such techniques as endoscopy (the insertion of a tiny camera on a flexible tube), MIR or CT guidance, doctors have visual aides to guide them as they perform their delicate task and no longer have to invade the skull to see the tumor.

Intratumoral Radiation Therapy
Traditional brain tumor treatment consisted of a blend of surgery paired with external beam radiation therapy.  Now, however, doctors have the ability to deliver radiation direct to the tumor site, allowing them to avoid sending radiation searing through healthy brain tissue.

One of the pioneers of this method is Dr. Griffith Harsh.  He developed the GliaSite technique, allowing surgeons to remove the tumor and implant a tiny device in the tumor cavity.  A couple weeks after surgery, the device is filled with liquid radiation that is released over 3-7 days.  The results are more effective, has less damaging side effects, and the rate of recurrence of tumors are much lower.  Dr. Griff Harsh is considered one of the top neurosurgeons in the nation.

Thanks to dedicated doctors and researchers, people who are diagnosed with a brain tumor now have more effective treatment options than ever before.

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