November 23


Would You Want Your Brain Surgeon to Go with the Flow?

By Staff Writer

brain damage, brain surgery

On the surface of things, probably not! Going with the flow sort of sounds laid back and most of us would want our brain surgeon to have everything all planned out before doing anything, and of course be ready to react to anything unexpected very quickly –  which doesn’t really seem like going with the flow, does it?

It is actually quite a good thing for them to do, but it isn’t about being laid back – it is using an innovative approach to visualizing your brain’s nerve connections using water (hence the flow).

A technique called tractography or DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) can be used to map the movement of water molecules in the nerves of the brain. within the nerves there is order, but that isn’t the case when it is outside the nerves.  This 3D modeling technique, which was first discovered in the mid-1980’s, allows the doctors to locate critical connections and to know where the surgery should be performed.  It can measure the diffusion of water in tissue in the brain to produce neural tract images. Many studies were performed using this technique in the 1990’s and has only grown since then.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]Sometimes there is only a tiny opening between the nerves, which cannot be located using the more traditional CT or MRI types of imaging.[/box]

These crowded conditions in the brain can introduce a lot of risk to the patient of sustaining brain damage (or more brain damage) during surgery. One patient, whose doctor used the ground-breaking water-based imaging technique, had a brain tumor located within his occipital lobe, the home of visual interpretation. No damage occurred to his vision during surgery, which would have been difficult using any other kind of imaging. You can read his story on Health Canal.

There is hope within the medical community that this type of imaging may be helpful to tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and it can also help within the field of Sports Medicine, to identify muscle and tendon injuries.

About the author

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as with us as contributors!

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