Brain path for tricky tumors

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A new tool is allowing doctors better access to those hard-to-reach sections of the brain, using a minimally-invasive approach to remove lesions. (KFSN)

Neurosurgeons have long considered tumors in deep areas of the brain inoperable, giving patients very few treatment options, and often, little hope. A new tool is allowing doctors better access to those hard-to-reach sections of the brain, using a minimally-invasive approach to remove lesions.

Bob Benner, 53, loves taking an active role in his son's sports. Right now Bob is sidelined, recovering from a life-threatening condition.

"Pounding headaches, the sun hurt. Hit a bump in the car, it hurt. Headaches all the time," Bob Benner told ABC30.

Doctors diagnosed Bob with cancer in his back, and another tumor deep in his brain. The idea of brain surgery was frightening.

"Are you going to be able to talk afterwards? Walk?" said Benner. "Are you going to lose your sight?"

A new tool is now giving surgeons options where none had existed before. The brain path allows doctors to reach deep areas in the brain, without disturbing critical nerves and tissues. Using computerized mapping of the brain, surgeons make a small opening, and insert the tube.

"The brain is not a smooth surface, so we then go through one of the valleys of the brain," said Jeroen Coppens, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery specializing in vascular neurosurgery and neurooncology at St. Louis University Hospital.

Doctors can see the tumor using cameras in a port. The brain path also allows doctors to remove the lesion.

Dr. Coppens explained, "The tumors can be anything from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball."

When doctors remove the tumor and the brain path, the brain tissues move back into place leaving just a small scar.

Bob Benner's cancer is in remission. Now he's looking forward to cheering his son on, next season.

Doctors say the brain path can also be used effectively for patients with hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke, which can result in brain damage, paralysis, or death.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Allison Tabeta
(314) 577-8152
atabeta@slu.edu


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