News | June 17, 2007

Dual-Imaging Technique Useful Before, During Brain Surgery

June 18, 2007 - Brain specialists associated with the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and University Hospital say the ability to incorporate, in real time, two high-tech imaging tools into the operating room can improve the functional abilities of patients who undergo brain surgery.

Neuroradiologist James Leach, MD, and his UC colleagues are among the first in the United States to combine functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and “diffusion tensor tractography” data to outline important areas of brain function and their connections prior to surgery and then transfer that data to the operating room to track those areas during actual surgery.

“Combining tractography and functional MRI intraoperatively has been in use clinically for only a few years,” says Leach, associate professor of radiology at UC and a neuroradiologist with University Hospital, “but our preliminary data is very promising because it allows us to optimize surgical approaches to treating brain tumors to ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

He says that combining standard visual, sound and voice-based tests, whose results are measured by MRI, performed on a high-field-strength (3 Tesla) scanner, with a precise intraoperative guidance system will improve patients’ post-operative speech, movement and memory and also optimize quality of life for those with brain tumors and other neurological conditions.

To combine both functional MRI and diffusion tensor tractography images in the operating room, Leach and his colleagues use a high-tech surgical navigation system known as BrainLAB. The BrainLAB technology incorporates functional MRI data to identify brain areas linked to speech, movement and vision and diffusion tensor imaging data to map critical “white-matter tracts”—the electrical connections between different parts of the brain that should be avoided during surgery.

For more information: www.uc.edu

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