My husband has a small tumor on his brain which his doctor said must be removed. The thought of brain surgery is frightening to us both. Can you give us any encouragement?Yes, new technology has made it possible for neurosurgeons to plan and rehearse an operation before it takes place. Doctors can plan their strategy on a computer monitor; and if any problems are revealed, changes in the plan can be made. Tumors, aneurysms, epilepsy and arteriovenous malformations now can be treated more precisely than ever before. Some disorders previously considered inoperable, including abnormalities deep inside the brain, are now treatable with the help of this technology. Because the computer reveals the exact location of an abnormality, the surgeon can make the smallest possible incision or no incision at all.
While the operation is taking place, a small wand can be used with the computer to help determine exactly where the surgeon is operating and reveal the extent of the abnormality below its visible surface.
This reduces many of the risks associated with brain surgery. Talk to your surgeon about this new technology and share any questions and concerns you have. The answers you receive will help reassure you and reduce your fears about this upcoming surgery.
Brain Tumor and “Knifeless” Surgery
My 52–year old husband has been told that he has an inoperable brain tumor. We will go anywhere to find treatment for him. Does he have any choices?Your husband may be a candidate for photon surgery (stereotactic radiosurgery), which merges sophisticated computer software with the technology of physics and radiation therapy. It is an option for some individuals whose brain tumors are inoperable because of the location of the tumor or because the patient’s general health is not adequate to undergo a surgical procedure. It can also be used to obliterate certain blood vessel malformations in the brain.
Photon surgery is a two–step process. The patient is first evaluated with scanning equipment that produces a three–dimensional map of the brain, allowing doctors to determine precisely where the tumor is. The surgeon, radiation therapist, physicist and computer scientist, work with these images and data, to develop a treatment plan that will destroy the tumor, but spare surrounding tissue.
The procedure itself involves precisely directing a cone of X–ray particles, or photons, to the tumor. The device that delivers the photon is directed by a computer. There is no incision, which is why this procedure is sometimes called “Knifeless” surgery. The treatment takes about two hours and the patient can return home the next day.
This approach to the destruction of some brain tumors has been in use at CCF for six years and is usually quite successful. A neurosurgeon can determine whether your husband is a candidate for this treatment option.
Brain Tumors in Adults