$9 million operating room with an MRI that guides brain surgeons.

Photo by David Denney, Star Tribune

Staff members in a new surgical suite at Abbott Northwestern Hospital moved an MRI scanner into position. The surgery is paused while scans are made of the patient’s surgery site. The process allows doctors to compare scans made before and during the surgery.

At Childrens hospital in Boston, They have a Suite similar to this one. “Unlike other intraoperative MR machines, the mobile MRI lets surgeons use their usual metal surgical tools because the unit is moved into the shielded garage when surgeons are operating,” says Joseph R. Madsen, MD, a neurosurgeon in the Department of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Boston and associate professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children—approximately 1,800 are diagnosed in the United States each year. Today, more than half of all children diagnosed with a brain tumor will be cured of the disease. The most effective form of treatment is the surgical removal of all or part of the tumor without jeopardizing any of the brain’s critical functions. In order to decide which areas of the tumor can safely be removed, neurosurgeons use the technique of brain mapping.

“The cutting edge of neurosurgery is to identify and remove as much of the undesirable pathologically damaging brain tissue without disturbing the functioning areas of the brain,” says Dr. Madsen. “Through the use of physiological mapping and the MR-OR, we are able to achieve this and assure our patients the best possible surgical outcomes.”

The Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (MN), pioneered by the surgical efforts of Dr. Charles Mayo nearly 100 years ago, is now one of the largest neurosurgical practices in North America. Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons provide care to thousands of patients from around the world, performing more than 3,000 neurosurgical procedures each year — among the highest procedural volumes in the world.

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