A new imaging technology known as intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging, or iMRI, promises to provide cancer surgeons and their patients with myriad benefits — allowing surgeons to operate using real-time images, rather than images taken hours before surgery.
Neurosurgeons at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics reportedly use iMRI equipped with “a stereotactic targeting device with optimal precision and stability, which allows surgeons to target the exact area of the brain on which they will operate.” Once operational, the iMRI images “function as a map of the brain, and because the map is so precise, the surgeon’s work is as accurate as it can possibly be.”
University of Wisconsin surgeons are using deep brain stimulation surgery performed with iMRI, as well. This enables patients to arrive the morning of the scheduled surgery. They are able to take any necessary medications before and after surgery, and they can also be asleep during the procedure.
Image courtesy: mayoclinic.com
Doctors at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital have also successfully used iMRI to remove brain tumors. In March, they reportedly removed a cancerous mass growing near the area of a patient’s brain responsible for fine motor-skill control. After the surgery, iMRI was used again. The surgeons saw “a tiny area of suspicious cells that were hidden during surgery.” These cancerous cells were removed, increasing the patient’s chances of beating the disease.
iMRI helps reduce the number of surgeries to which a single patient might be subjected because neurosurgeons can remove a maximum amount of tumor, as well as assess the surgery’s success before the patient is awake.
iMRI has also been successfully used for treating tumors of the liver. Because liver tumors are frequently located next to vital organs — diaphragm, colon, stomach, and gallbladder — having precise, real-time imaging capabilities allows tumors to be destroyed, as Dr. Baumgartner observes.
iMRI allows liver tumors to be removed using a minimally invasive process and ablation rather than conventional open surgery. It has also been used to treat recurring liver tumors and, as with brain cancer patients, the use of iMRI during surgery can reportedly significantly prolong patients’ survival.
About the Author:
Linda Dailey Paulson is the head writer for Providian Medical Equipment, a leading provider of refurbished Ultrasound, CT and MRI systems to hospitals and clinics all over the world. Paulson has been a medical and technology journalist for over 20 years.