MRI boosts confidence in brain tumor treatments
brain tumors and their physicians alike soon may have more confidence in surgical
treatment recommendations, thanks to the effects of preoperative functional MRI
of language and motor areas in the brain. Scientists from Duke University Medical
Center in Durham, N.C., have conducted a study to determine whether functional MRI
influenced a physician’s original surgical approach for 39 patients with various
The imaging, performed with a GE Medical Systems
1.5-T MR imager, was conducted while patients performed sentence completion and
alternating hand-squeezing tasks. Image analysis revealed the active areas of the
brain during language and motor function and the proximity of these areas to a tumor.
Not only did these images affect which surgical procedure was chosen, but they also
affected the length and extent of the surgery.
As a result of the images, surgeons
opted for a more aggressive approach than the original therapeutic plan in 18 patients
and a less aggressive approach in one; they recommended surgery for seven out of
nine patients for whom it originally had not been planned. Functional MRI allowed
physicians to avoid the use of other, more invasive diagnostic approaches, helped
to shorten surgical time by up to an hour in 22 patients and enabled a more complete
resection of the tumor in six patients.
Although the technique still has several
limitations, its advantages are significant and indicate that it has potential for
full implementation in regular clinical use. The entire process, conducted in real
time, can be completed within one hour, with 30 minutes reserved for actual imaging.
Neurosurgeons gain confidence in choosing and performing particular procedures,
especially in cases when such procedures previously were considered too risky. The
study concluded that functional MRI can help patients with brain tumors receive
more beneficial treatment.
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