Potential New Tool for Brain Tumor Patients

Thanks to a new method for measuring brain function, your patients with brain tumors could soon experience better surgical results.

Thanks to a new method for measuring brain function developed by researchers at the University of Southampton, England, your patients with brain tumors could soon experience better surgical results. Paul Hoy and colleagues—looking to advance beyond the slow method of asking patients during brain surgery to perform a certain task while electrically stimulating the brain surrounding the tumor, and the inability to use MRI and CT scans during surgery—are developing a new method based on observation of blood flow in the brain. The rapid and highly sensitive procedure measures brain function across the entire area during surgery by looking at light reflected off of the brain, as oxygen-carrying hemoglobin absorbs light differently depending on whether it is actually carrying oxygen to active regions of the brain.

The light signals have been measured on four patients during brain surgery, with results matching those seen with electrical stimulation. The British researchers hope that data they’re collecting now will lead to a clinical trial designed to test the technique’s effectiveness.