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Sheffield Children’s Hospital pioneers new ‘sat nav’ of the brain to map tumours

Sheffield Children’s hospital is leading the use of an intraoperative MRI scanner combined with new brain mapping software to identify if they have removed all of the tumour while the patient is still in theatre.

The process also allows neurosurgeons to more precisely locate the edges of brain tumours increasing the protection of healthy tissue during surgery.

“The fact we can use the MRI scanner during the surgery is a real step-change. We scan the patient that we are operating on with their skull still open and the operation still ongoing,” said Hesham Zaki, head of the department of paediatric neurosurgery.

“The MRI images mean that we can be sure the tumour has been completely removed and nothing has been left behind before we finish the operation. This is important because some types of brain tumour can look like normal brain.

“Using a combination of MRI scanning and the brain lab, we can offer the most advanced system in the UK for neuro-navigation. Information from the MRI scanner is loaded into the brain lab, which is able to guide us with absolute precision to where we want to go to remove the tumour. Just like a sat nav, it tells me where I need to go.

“This is a sea-change. Tumours that were inoperable can now be operated on.”

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