03 May 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
When 55–year–old Sheela Narang from Mira Road left home for KEM Hospital last week, she feared that she might never return—she was scared out of her wits by the stories about patients with deep–seated brain tumours either dying or developing complications, even during diagnosis.
However, a combination of technique and technology at the civic–run hospital in Parel changed the impression altogether. After entering the operation theatre, she was wheeled out within a little more than an hour and discharged the very next day. Tissues from the tumour has been taken out and sent for testing to find out if it was cancerous. Her reports are expected on Monday.
Diagnosing brain lesions has become comparatively safe and precise at the KEM hospital, possibly the only one in the public health sector in the city to use the Frameless Neuronavigation Biopsy technology. While the concept is not that recent, a new software armed with better imaging, has made it possible for doctors to reach the exact location of the tumour without damaging adjoining nerves or vessels.
The procedure has been used on about 25 patients in the past few months. A 5mm needle is inserted into the brain and it draws out tissues of the tumour. The report is then used to decide on the treatment modality as the factor causing the tumour is also revealed in the procedure.
MRI images of the brain are fused into the software. “With the help of the images, we plan the route for the needle so that it can reach the tumour without damaging vital parts of the brain,” said Dr Nitin Dange, associate professor of neurosurgery at KEM. The method that costs a few thousands at KEM is pegged at anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh in a private set–up.
Doctors have given the thumbs up to the frameless technology as it gives them better access to the inside of the brain. Even the widely used diagnostic tool, Stereotactic Biopsy, uses a needle to reach the tumour. “But, with that, doctors have to use the needly more or less blindly as we cannot track it once it goes inside the brain,” Dange said.
Safe Tool for Diagnosis
- Period: 1.5–2 hours
- Patient needs to be on general anaesthesia
- A 5mm needle goes inside the brain and draws out tissues from the tumour
- The needle’s route to the tumour is based on images
- 70%–80% brain tumours can be treated by medicines or radiotherapy