Instant Exposure: iMRI gives surgeons the edge

FRESNO, Calif.

A new machine may be the key to recovery for some brain tumor patients -- like 43-year-old April Gillies. In March, doctors removed a tumor from her brain for the third time.

"It's hard to keep your faith and not wonder why you have to keep going through it," Gillies told Action News .

The tumor was cancerous and growing near an area that controlled fine motor skills. This time, doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have a new tool by their sides -- an inter-operative magnetic resonance imaging machine (iMRI).

"We've had surgery and MRI for decades. Now, we're putting them together," Steven N. Kalkanis, M.D., co-director, Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital, told Action News .

The imaging system is in a special suite connected to the operating room. Patients can be wheeled into the scanner -- giving surgeons a real-time snapshot of the brain.

Traditionally, surgeons rely on images taken hours before. With this surgical set-up, doctors also use the iMRI right after the operation.

In Gillies' case, the scanner picked up a tiny area of suspicious cells that were hidden during surgery. Dr. Kalkanis went back in and removed them, increasing her chances of kicking the cancer for good. News that made a huge difference to Gillies, her husband, and their 12-year old son.

"That was the one question he asked me at the hospital: 'Did they get it all?' And we were ableto tell him yes," Gillies told Action News .

Dr. Kalkanis says the iMRI is being used as part of the evaluation of many of Henry Ford Hospital's ongoing brain tumor clinical trials. It's helping doctors understand which treatments are the most effective for a particular patient suffering from the disease.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Dwight Angell, Media Relations
Henry Ford Hospital
Detroit, MI
dangell1@hfhs.org

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