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 In the Middle of Brain Surgery, Patients Wake Up and Begin Talking

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Date posted: 11/09/2009

Kim Delvaux was undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor when doctors at Loyola University Hospital woke her up. Dr. Vikram Prabhu talked to her about her favorite topics -- NASCAR and her kids.

"I can remember two distinct conversations," said Delvaux, who lives in Downers Grove. "My friends can't believe it, but it's true."

While she was awake, Prabhu gently probed brain tissue surrounding the tumor. If this affected Delvaux's ability to speak or move, Prabhu would avoid those areas when he later removed the tumor. "We call these areas 'No Fly Zones,'" he said.

The technique allows the surgeon to map out sites that are essential for speech and motor skills. Surgeons have been doing various forms of brain mapping for decades. But advances in preoperative imaging, anesthesia and surgical tools and techniques have significantly improved outcomes. Consequently, surgeons are able to remove tumors in close proximity to critical parts of the brain, and patients are experiencing fewer cognitive and motor deficits, Prabhu said.

"Evidence in the medical literature supports the safety and efficacy of brain mapping," Prabhu said. Prabhu is a neurosurgical oncologist and associate professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Some patients remember little or nothing. Others remember fragments. Theresa Shepherd of Plainfield remembers Prabhu saying: "Terry, I need you to talk." Carla Jones of Gary has just a vague memory. "I can remember Dr. Prabhu speaking to me, but it's a little blurry," she said.

Prabhu does brain mapping on especially difficult cases in which tumors are located close to critical brain structures. He has done about 35 cases since he began a brain mapping program at Loyola in 2004. The team includes anesthesiologists, neuropsychologists, radiologists, residents, nurses and biomedical technicians.

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com

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