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Patients' Eyes Open Wide For Awake Brain Surgery

Armen Hareyan's picture

Awake Brain Surgery

Global positioning system technology has added precision to brain surgery that already carries a significant "wow" factor because it is performed while patients are awake.

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Though the procedure, called awake craniotomy, is not new, the combination of mapping and imaging technologies adds benefits for doctors and patients. Surgeons know the location of a tumor in the brain down to the millimeter before making a single incision, and patients' risk for neurologic deficits are lower while they're awake.

"Patient comfort is an important issue in performing these types of surgeries," says Dr. E. Antonio Chiocca, director of neurological surgery at Ohio State University Medical Center. "Patients often want to move while they're awake, but they can't move while we're operating on their brain. So speed is important in these procedures."

Discomfort does not equate to pain, Chiocca notes, because the skull and brain have no pain receptors