The surgical excision of brain cancer is a difficult and delicate balancing act. Cut too little, and the cancer will spread. Cut too much, and the patient may suffer grave, permanent deficits. Preoperative brain scans provide vital visual guidance, but their accuracy diminishes as the brain shifts during surgery.
To help overcome these challenges, NYU Langone Health’s top-ranked neurosurgeons are now equipped with an intraoperative MRI (iMRI), a state-of-the-art scanner that can be called into action during an operation to confirm, in real time, that the tumor is completely excised.
The seven-ton machine (one of only two in New York City) sits between OR 3 and OR 6 in Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion. To transfer the patient to the iMRI, the top of the specially designed operating bed is slid over the top of another bed, which is then docked to the scanner. In as few as eight minutes, depending on how many images are needed, a new set of scans becomes available for the neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist to compare against preoperative images.
“iMRI is a game changer,” notes John Golfinos, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “It helps differentiate tumor tissue from normal tissue, minimize disturbances to critical brain regions, identify complications such as hemorrhaging, and circumvent shifting brain tissue that can obscure tumor margins—all of which helps a patient avoid a second trip to the OR.”