Roadmap for the Brain

August 10, 2009 7:56:05 PM PDT
It's one of the most delicate places to operate, and sometimes brain surgery to remove tumors is too risky. Doctors created a better roadmap of the brain to guide them through surgery. For one woman, it provided an option when others told her it was too late. Newlyweds Stacy and Jeff Buzzard quickly learned the meaning of "in sickness and in health."

"It was just a few days after we were married that it got to the point that I couldn't do anything," Stacy told Ivanhoe. "I remember saying to my husband that I know I'm dying."

She had a fist-sized brain tumor covering a quarter of her brain.

"I remember screaming at home and telling him that it felt like someone was stabbing my eyes out," Stacy said.

Doctors designed a computer program specifically for Stacy using four different imaging technologies -- MRI, functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging and CT angiography. Surgeons mapped out a 3-D image of the tumor and brain. With this clear picture, the tumor went from inoperable to treatable because doctors could see vital vessels and maneuver around them.

"The size of the tumor was so large that I needed to know where the arteries and veins were located," John Tew, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, told Ivanhoe.

"This allows you to do basically sort of a virtual surgery before actually going in and doing the surgery on the patient," James Leach, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Doctors removed 90 percent of Stacy's tumor without harming healthy brain tissue. She was talking and walking the same night. "It was a blessing, there's no question," Dr. Tew said. "I saw it as a blessing."

Stacy had radiation and chemo to treat the remaining tumor.

"I'm really excited about the future, and I feel really optimistic and positive," she said.

Having the images in the operating room allowed Stacy to be asleep for the operation instead of awake, which is the common practice. Her doctor says she has responded exceptionally well to treatment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
UC Neuroscience Institute
Cincinnati, OH
1-866-941-UCNI (8264)

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