New device helps surgeons spare healthy brain tissue

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News, photojournalist Michael Moore and editor John Fisher

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 7:12 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 7:21 AM

AUSTIN -- Brain tumors have always posed a challenge for neurosurgeons. They can reach tumors deep within the brain, but it's still difficult without damaging surrounding tissue. Now a new device called the Nico Brain Path provides minimally invasive surgery for patients who may have thought they were out of treatment options.
 
"You would have to take out a portion of the good brain to get to this," said Anant Patel, M.D., a neurosurgeon at St. David's North Austin Medical Center.
 
And there in a cranial shell you have the problem facing neurosurgeons.  Getting to any deep seated tumors or lesions in the brain is usually not the problem.  Getting there without damaging brain matter -- now that's where the challenge lies.  

"To access those deep, seated lesions one has to open the brain," said Patel. "One has to go through critical fiber tracks at times to get to that area."

However a new, simple device called the Nico Brain Path is allowing doctors to aggressively go after tumors without destroying brain tissue.

"Any of the cancers, tumors -- whether they're benign, malignant, or even deep, seated hemorrhages - can all be addressed through the brain path," said Patel.

First surgeons use computer imaging to create a roadmap of the brain.  The brain path forms a nickel-sized hole into the skull and then on into the brain.  With an optical device attached -- doctors can navigate their way to the affected areas and treat them. Patel says the proof is in the scans.

"Do you see any openings," he asked.  "Do you see any violation of tissue? All the hemorrhage is gone.  That's the beauty behind the brain path."

Patel says the device is allowing him and other neurosurgeons to visualize what -- to date-- has been impossible.

"Maybe the Holy Grail in neurosurgery," said Patel. "How do you find and cure some of these malignant brain tumors."

Patel is one of only 11-surgeons in the country to use this technology.  If you'd like to learn more, check out the link below:

http://www.neurotexasinstitute.com/Home.aspx
 

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