Gadget gobbles brain tumors

Singer Sheryl Crow recently revealed she had a brain tumor. Her benign brain tumor hasn't caused major problems at this point, but for others, the non-cancerous tumors can cause serious conditions including blindness.

Often they can't be removed because of where they are in the brain. Now, a new gadget is gobbling them up.

The quilts she makes with her church group provide comfort around the world. The cross-country motorcycle trips Alice Floyd takes with her husband David provide a sense of freedom. But Alice felt that freedom start to slip away.

"I got a headache that was nagging and just would not go away,” says brain tumor patient Alice Floyd. “I was really wobbly."

A ride to Detroit Medical Center Neurosurgeon Murali Guthikonda revealed Alice had 30 to 40 benign tumors deep inside each side of her brain.

"The removal of these tumors is very tricky," says Chief of Neurosurgery at Detroit Medical Center Dr. Murali Guthikonda.

But the Nico Myriad is helping surgeons safely destroy hard to reach and previously inoperable brain tumors without making large incisions.

It's been adopted in 70 hospitals across the U.S. and used in 2,000 procedures in the last three years.

"It has made a big difference," says Dr. Guthikonda.

Surgeons insert it into a dime-size hole in the skull or endoscopically through the nose. It cuts out and sucks out tumors.

"There's no heat like when we use lasers," explains Dr. Guthikonda.

That's important when working close to structures like the optic nerve that can be damaged by a laser's heat, or in areas where there's a lot of fluid, which can make lasers ineffective. As for Alice, the Nico helped the doctor remove about a dozen tumors that were causing her problems.

"It's wonderful," says Floyd. "It's nice to have my life back."

The results were not immediate for Alice. After surgery, she had to go through six weeks of physical therapy to help get her balance back.

The doctor says the device works best on soft tumors. It might not be the right approach for patients with hard or calcified tumors.


TOPIC: Gadget gobbles brain tumors.
REPORT: MB # 3510

BRAIN TUMOR BACKGROUND: A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself, or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain (metastasize). Brain tumors may be classified as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on their behavior.

A benign tumor does not contain cancer cells and usually, once removed, does not recur. Most benign brain tumors have clear borders, meaning they do not invade surrounding tissue. These tumors can, however, cause symptoms similar to cancerous tumors because of their size and location in the brain.

TREATMENT: Surgery is usually the first step in the treatment of brain tumors. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while maintaining neurological function. A biopsy is also done to examine the types of cells the tumor is made of for a diagnosis. This is frequently done if the tumor is in an area with sensitive structures around it that may be injured during removal. (Source: The traditional surgical technique for accessing brain tumors is called a craniotomy. It involves peeling away skin from the face and cutting the skull open. There is a high risk of infection, substantial blood loss and considerable facial scarring from this method, among other complications. With the eyebrow method, the surgeon instead makes an incision along the eyebrow to access the base of the skull. The incision takes 2 to 3 days to heal, and the patient experiences lower risks of leaking spinal fluid or contracting meningitis.

"GOBBLING UP" TUMORS: The Nico Myriad is an automated, non-heat producing surgical device that removes tumor tissue using either open or endoscopic surgical techniques. What sets this new technology apart from other neurosurgical devices is its ability to access hard to reach places in the brain.

The tool has an opening at the tip on its side, moving at 1400 cycles per second. It is controlled by the surgeon allowing the removal of the tumor to be very precise.

"Patients who have tumors that are located in the depths of brain and are hard to reach can be removed using a dime sized opening in the skull and using a combination of navigation and endoscopes with the Myriad. This device allows the surgeon to get to the tumor without damaging the brain along the way," states Dr. Murali Guthikonda. "We are also optimistic that this device will make a difference in treating patients with brain hemorrhages allowing us to achieve better outcomes with our patients and improve their quality of life."
(Source: Detroit Medical Center)


Silvia Zoma
Public Relations and Marketing Account Manager
Harper University Hospital
(313) 745-7637

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