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Neurosurgeon uses new approach for brain tumors and blood clots

Now there is a way to preserve brain function while treating deep-seated brain tumors and large blood clots caused by hemorrhagic strokes. Jefferson Chen, M.D., can now reach and remove what was thought to be inoperable. He does this by integrating advanced technologies for imaging, mapping, optics, access and resection. These new surgical techniques incorporate a tool called the NICO BrainPath. Dr. Chen is the first neurosurgeon on the West Coast to use the BrainPath. He performs this minimally invasive technique at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, one of only 10 U.S. hospitals to offer the technology.

“I’m pleased with the results from our first three patients. Respecting the white matter with a more thoughtful approach leads to improved preservation of brain function,” says Dr. Chen, medical director of trauma neurosurgery at Legacy Emanuel. “I look forward to continuing to develop the BrainPath program.”

• Imaging — MRI and/or CT scans serve as road maps for the surgery. The multi-colored images help Dr. Chen pre-plan a surgical pathway before the procedure begins. He wants to create the best route to avoid areas such as white matter filled with thousands of nerve fibers that affect how the brain functions.

• Mapping — The navigation system is like a GPS in the brain. It can pinpoint the precise location of the tumor and track in real time the exact location of each surgical instrument.

• HD Optics — A high-powered telescope and camera above the skull opening improves intraoperative visualization, which helps to improve resection.

• Access — One piece of the BrainPath is a narrow probe with a special tip that minimizes damage by displacing tissue as it advances through fiber tracts to the target site. Around the probe is a clear plastic tube that creates a safe surgical corridor to the tumor or blood clot in the farthest depths in the brain.

• Resection — Dr. Chen then removes the tumor or blood clot with NICO Myriad, a pencil-thin tool designed not to generate heat, which minimizes damage to adjacent critical structures like optic nerves and blood vessels.

BrainPath and the minimally invasive techniques enable Dr. Chen to reach previously inoperable tumors with smaller incisions. This leads to a decrease in the risk of infection and bleeding, and a shorter hospital stay.