The brain is the most complicated organ in our body. Every area has a specific function that controls everything that we do. For years, doctors have had a rough map of the brain, but never to the degree that they could operate and know for sure how to avoid every critical portion since each person's brain is unique, causing variations in the map. This fact, combined with the sheer complexity of the brain, has challenged neurosurgeons for years.
Through groundbreaking research pioneered at UCSF, an advanced brain mapping technique has enabled doctors to remove as much of a brain tumor as possible while minimizing the impact on the crucial areas of the brain that control movement, speech and the senses.
By using 3-dimensional imaging technology to operate on the brain, surgeons can accurately target their dissection down to the smallest degree. The goal is to remove all or most of the tumor without producing any permanent neurological deficit in the patient.
During the surgery, the patient is awake for a portion of the surgical procedure to help surgeons with an understanding of the functional areas of the brain near the tumor. This allows doctors to map out their path to a successful surgery while minimizing impact on healthy, vital tissue.
The patient is allowed to return to consciousness after the brain has been exposed, and then interacts with the team as they stimulate areas of the brain near the tumor.
For example, the neurosurgeon may stimulate the brain where it controls feelings in the mouth and gums, causing the patient to experience tingling or tongue twitching. Language testing is also performed.
Once the areas of the eloquent cortex have been identified, the patient is put back under general anesthesia and the surgery is completed.
Brain mapping is also being used to treat other diseases such as epilepsy.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.