News Release: Research

Mar. 12,  2009

Benign Brain Tumors Removed through Small Openings

From Woodruff Health Sciences Center News

Neurosurgeons at Emory University Hospital Midtown are now removing benign tumors from deep within the brain though tiny incisions and openings in the skull no larger than a pea. This novel treatment alleviates the need to fully open the skull to remove tumors, meaning fewer risks, less operating time and shorter hospital stays for the patient.

Emory University Hospital Midtown is the only hospital in Georgia removing these tumors endoscopically through small openings in the skull.

The most common brain tumors removed by this method are called colloid cysts. They are benign cystic tumors found deep in the brain, which can cause obstructive hydrocephalus, an increased build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the ventricles of the brain.

Blockage of the normal flow of CSF can lead to increased intracranial pressure, resulting in headache, vertigo, memory impairment, weakness of limbs and behavioral changes. In some cases, the tumors can even cause sudden death.

“In most medical centers, colloid cysts are removed with a craniotomy, resulting in a large incision and complete opening of the skull,” says Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, Emory University School of Medicine. “Now, we are able to remove these tumors through small incisions and openings in the skull with the use of a 6 millimeter endoscope (fiberoptic camera). Visualization by the endoscope allows for identification of the colloid cyst in the third ventricle, and small instruments (2 millimeters) are passed through openings at the end of endoscope for removal of the tumor.”

In addition to removing the tumor, surgeons are able to create new pathways for the cerebrospinal fluid to flow freely again, so no shunts to drain excess fluid are needed.

A skilled neurosurgeon, Hadjipanayis reports he is seeing excellent outcomes in patients who have these tumors removed using this minimally invasive technique. Patients have a much shorter recovery time and can return to normal activities several days after surgery.

Colloid cysts account for approximately one percent of all intracranial tumors.

For more information on this procedure, call Emory HealthConnection at 404.778.2000.

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