Surgery News: October 2006 Archives

Radiosurgery: Operating on the brain without a scalpel

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Radiosurgery gives doctors pinpoint accuracy in treating a number of brain disorders, all without ever opening the skull.

Operating on the brain is always a delicate proposition. If a tumor or other abnormality is buried deep within the brain, neurosurgeons can sometimes damage healthy brain tissue as they make their way to the tissue to be removed.

In radiosurgery, no incisions are necessary. Doctors use the latest imaging technology to identify abnormal areas in the brain with pinpoint accuracy, so an array of radiation beams can be focused precisely on the target from many different directions.

Each individual radiation beam is too weak to harm the brain tissue it passes through. The damage occurs only at the spot in the brain where all the beams meet. With the help of a computer, this spot can be accurately plotted to within a fraction of a millimeter.