Brain surgery now easier on patients

August 21st, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 21 (IANS) Relying on minimally invasive techniques, neurosurgeons are making brain surgery easier and less risky. These procedures at Loyola University Hospital are tackling tumours, life-threatening aneurysms and epileptic seizures. Instead of removing patches of the skull or face Edward Duckworth, a neurosurgeon, is reaching the brain through much smaller openings, including the nose. He recently successfully performed an aneurysm repair on David Shoblaske, a 64-year-old retired business executive from Riverside, Illinois.

Shoblaske’s aneurysm, on the right side of his brain, was spotted on a CT scan following recurring headaches. If the bugle had burst, Shoblaske would likely have suffered a serious stroke.

In traditional procedure, the surgeon would cut out three square inches of the skull, and then reattach it with small plates and screws. Duckworth’s incision was only about an inch across.

Despite the complex procedure and additional risks for a heart patient, Shoblaske experienced no surgical complications or changes in cognitive abilities. His headaches went away. “It was a complete success,” he declared.

Duckworth has performed more than 50 similar aneurysm repairs at Loyola, University of South Florida, where he trained, and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he did a fellowship. He also performs less-invasive brain surgeries on epilepsy patients, where he removes the small part of the brain triggering seizures.

Duckworth and colleagues reported results on 201 patients in Neurosurgery. Even after two years, 78 percent were free from the most disabling type of seizures. Only 1.5 percent experienced complications. Patients stayed in the hospital an average of 2.6 days, as against seven earlier.

In certain cases, Duckworth reaches the brain through a one centimetre incision in the skull. A surgical instrument goes through one nostril and an endoscope through the other. He can then remove tumours in the pituitary gland or at the base of the skull.

Duckworth gave a presentation on the procedure at a recent meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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