Robot performs world’s first surgery to remove brain tumour

May 18th, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by admin  

Toronto, May 18 (IANS) Canadian doctors have created history by performing the world’s first robotic surgery to remove brain tumour. In the landmark surgery, neurosurgeons at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre guided a newly developed robotic system - called NeuroArm - to remove an egg-shaped tumour from the brain of a woman.

Twenty-one-year-old Paige Nickason was discharged from the hospial two days after the nine-hour-long surgery performed Monday.

“I was happy to help by being a part of this historical surgery,” she said in a statement at the weekend.

The woman said she was scary at first. “But I really trust my doctors and know they would keep me safe.”

During the surgery, the two-armed robot, which used surgical instruments as its hands, was guided by surgeons through a remote control system and an imaging screen.

“This is a turning point in the performance and teaching of neurosurgery. NeuroArm will improve surgical outcomes as it is less invasive and more delicate in its touch,” said Garnette Sutherland, who is the brain behind NeuroArm and professor of neurosurgery at the University of Calgary.

Sutherland termed the surgery “a technical achievement in the use of image-guided robotic technology to remove a relatively complex brain tumour.”

He said NeuroArm would bring precision to neurosurgery as it can `move in smaller increments than a surgeon’s hand.’

Whereas a surgeon’s hand can move in increments of one or two millimeters, he said, NeuroArm is capable of increments of up to 50 microns - which is the approximate width of a strand of human hair.

The woman has been diagnosed with a disease called neurofibromatosis which leads to tumour formation on brain nerves that can affect the senses.

A fist-sized tumour was removed from her brain through traditional surgery just two months ago.

Surgeons say tumours will keep forming in her brain, but they need to be detected early to prevent any harm to her.

Interestingly, Sutherland credited the popularity of videogames for their (surgeons) skills in manipulating this robotic surgery. Being adept at videogames, he said, today’s kids will make excellent surgeons as they will have the requisite hand-eye coordination to manipulate robotic techniques.

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