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People with brain tumors often go into surgery not knowing if their doctor will be able remove the entire mass the first time.
Now, a new technology is giving surgeons a better view of the brain and it’s improving the final outcome.
When Dale Hirzel started seeing double, he knew something was wrong.
Nothing could prepare him for what the doctors found. He said, “My primary care doctor ordered an MRI, which they found the tumor.”
The white area on the scans is Dale’s brain tumor. It’s easy to spot now, but during surgery, doctors have a hard time determining where tumors end and where healthy tissue begins.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Linskey said, “The brain is supported by fluid, and as you open the head to begin the work and the fluid drains, the brain will naturally sag and shift.”
A new device called an Intraoperative MRI helped Dr. Linskey see Dale’s tumor clearly during the operation.
Magnets are placed around the patient’s head. They take detailed, three-dimensional pictures of the brain.
Dr. Linskey added, “You can actually see the image while you’re in the operating room and you can see what changes have occurred. You can directly see what is still left behind versus what isn’t.”
After the tumor is removed, doctors bring the magnets back up to double-check their work.
Dr. Linskey continued, “Then we can directly compare the pre-op and the post-op direct intraoperative images and confirm that we’ve removed all of the tumor.”
Dr. Linskey says the chances of removing the entire tumor the first time are 50% to 60% better with the IMRI.
The IMRI is used primarily for tumors that blend into normal brain tissue as well as pituitary tumors where visibility is limited.
It may eventually be used for pediatric surgery on the brain and spine.