Mapping the Brain

March 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In brain surgery, accuracy is crucial. Surgeons typically use electrical stimulation while patients are awake to identify important areas in the brain during surgery. Now, doctors are using a new technology to map the brain.Scott Engle spends his spare time making ice cream cones and setting up a neighborhood café for teens.

"It's an all volunteer operation but it is something that I can do a little bit at a time," Engle says.

That's because a hard, bony mass beneath his skull causes severe pain.

"I was on a mission trip in Honduras. I started losing the senses in my hands, in my arms and in my legs," Engle recalls.

And he felt exploding pressure in his head.

"After five years of incredible pain, I was really ready to try anything," Engle says.

University of Cincinnati doctors suggested brain surgery using new brain mapping technology to highlight specific areas of Engle's brain activity.

"That allows us to have that information available for the neurosurgeons to plan surgery as well as in the operating room," says James Leach, M.D., a neuroradiologist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

These images are merged from a functional MRI and special software. Patients perform activities during the scan, so neuroradiologists can map key areas to avoid during surgery.

"People have found that it has allowed neurosurgeons to remove more of the tumor," Dr. Leach says.

Doctors didn't remove Engle's mass, but did implant stimulators to reduce the pain. He says that has allowed him to have a life again.

Dr. Leach says the brain mapping software may also be helpful to surgeons performing brain stimulation procedures on stroke patients.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Amanda Harper
University of Cincinnati Medical Center
amanda.harper@uc.edu


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