Historically, neurosurgeons have had little information available to help navigate through the brain during surgery.
New technologies are now allowing them to design more direct trajectories to brain tumors and safely remove more of the tumor minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue.
In "Brain Tumors, Tractography, and Surgery," the ongoing UCSD-TV series “Health Matters” presents Dr. Clark Chen and host Dr. David Granet to explain how tractography — a 3D modeling technique based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — is improving patient outcomes.
The latest MRI technologies allow the surgeon to visualize the brain’s tissues, as well as tumors, in “real time,” thus greatly increasing the likelihood of improved patient outcomes.
“It’s like staring in the face of God,” says Dr. Chen. “You can see exquisite connections between neurons that you cannot otherwise see. The MRI allows us to visually re-construct all of the beautiful anatomy that we spent years and years studying as medical student and physicians.”
A nationally-recognized brain tumor specialist, Dr. Chen is co-director of neurosurgical oncology and associate professor, division of neurosurgery, at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Dr. Granet is a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at UC San Diego and longtime host of the Emmy Award-winning TV series.
More observations by Dr. Chen:
“One of the major challenges when you are trying to remove a tumor in the brain is that you’re trying to avoid doing harm to the patient. For example, if you have a tumor that’s deeper in the brainer, you have to go through some normal brain in order to remove the tumor.”
“The brain is a dynamic entity. As you manipulate and remove the tumor, it shifts. Just as your own physical position now is different than it was only a few minutes ago – your brain is no different.”
“Now … we can actually see that (new position) without in any way touching the patient. It’s extraordinary.”