Neurosurgeons hail breakthrough

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The Independent Online
Neurosurgeons hail breakthrough

Surgeons yesterday unveiled a "virtual reality" technique for brain operations, which they claim will dramatically improve the accuracy and safety of complex operations. Claimed to be the most advanced of its kind in Britain, the pounds 180,000 system shows surgeons the exact location of scalpels and other instruments, within a 3-D image of the inside of the brain.

The "neuro-navigation" system involves tiny ceramic balls on the surgeon's manual instruments.

These are detected by two near-infra-red cameras which, with other equipment, construct a VR image of where the instruments are within a 3-D scan of the inside of the brain. This enables surgeons to "see" inside the head and brain to within an accuracy of just three tenths of a millimetre.

The system was displayed at the Institute of Neurosciences at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital, where surgeons described it as "the most important breakthrough in neurosurgery in decades".

The technique has already been used six times at the institute. Consultant neurosurgeon Garth Cruikshank said: "You can see more clearly where the tumour or problem is, and you can access it by a more direct route."