Brain Tumors 617_347

Photo: AZPM

University of Arizona surgeons Alexander Chiu (left) and Michael Lemole discuss their work on brain-tumor patients.

University of Arizona surgeons have developed new minimally invasive procedures for removing brain tumors. As a result, some patients can leave the hospital after just two days, and their pain is greatly reduced, they say.

Michael Lemole, chief of the UA Division of Neurosurgery, and Alexander Chiu, of the UA Department of Surgery, say they are applying techniques from nasal and sinus surgeries to reach the brain and remove tumors.

Until now, much surgery to remove brain tumors has meant highly invasive operations, removing large parts of the skull or going through a patient's cheekbone, Lemole says. The new techniques minimize if not eliminate the need to do so.

"One of the golden rules of a traditional skull-based surgery is take more bone, move things out of the way ... so that you don't have to pull on the brain, because we can't reverse that, we can't fix that," Lemole says. "If we injure a nerve, if we injury an artery or the brain, it's very, very hard to deal with."

But with the newly developed techniques of going through the nose and using small instruments with high-powered cameras and imaging, such invasive surgeries are becoming a thing of the past, Lemole says.

"The nice thing about these newer technologies is it allows us to move away from these bigger approaches but still have the same impact," he says.

Chiu says surgeons for years have gone through the nasal passage to perform relatively minor surgeries on people's sinus cavities. Now, the same passage way is being used to reach the brain.

"This technique just takes it one step further, where we're now going outside of the sinuses to get to the brain," Chiu says. "We're still doing it through the nose, using all of the same techniques and the same equipment as we would for minor surgeries."

The technique uses tiny high-definition cameras and image-guidance systems that allow surgeons to home in on exactly where on the brain or optic nerve tumors are growing.

Alexander Chiu a MD at the University of Arizona department of surgery and Michael Lemole a MD. an chief at the University of Arizona division of neurosurgery talk about brain tumors.