A 51-year-old San Diego woman is recovering following groundbreaking brain cancer surgery last month at the UC San Diego Thornton Hospital, hospital officials said Thursday.
For the first time in California, advanced three-dimensional imaging, computer simulation and next-generation surgical tools were used together to remove deep-seated tumors, according to the UC San Diego Health System.
“Tumors located at the base of the skull are particularly challenging to treat due to the location of delicate anatomic structures and critical blood vessels,” said Dr. Clark Chen, a UCSD neurosurgeon.
“The conventional approach to excising these tumors involves long skin incisions and removal of a large piece of skull,” Chen said. “This new minimally invasive approach is far less radical. It decreases the risk of the surgery and shortens the patient’s hospital stay.”
Chen said the imaging system allows physicians to identify the neural fibers, which are the connections that allow the brain to perform essential functions. The surgeons can then plot a pathway to the site of the tumor, said Chen, vice chairman of academic affairs for the Division of Neurosurgery at UCSD School of Medicine.
After surgery planning, a 2-inch incision was made near the hairline of the patient, whose name was not released. That was followed by drilling a quarter-sized hole in the skull.
The surgery was carried out through a thin tube-like retractor that created a narrow path to the tumor. Aided by a robotic arm and high-resolution cameras, the surgical team was able to safely remove two tumors within millimeter precision.
Dr. Bob Carter, a UCSD professor and chief of neurosurgery, said a new wave of advances in minimally invasive surgery for brain cancer patients is underway.
“These minimally invasive approaches permit smaller incisions and a shorter recovery,” Carter said. “In this case, the patient was able to go home the day after the successful removal of multiple brain tumors.”
— City News Service
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