What is neurosurgery?
If you have a primary or metastatic brain tumor, it's important to be seen by an integrated team of physicians with expertise in performing cancer-related surgical procedures on the nervous system and its supporting structures.
Our Neurosurgery Services Program is led by an expert neurosurgery team, including: a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, pathologist, psychologist, rehabilitation therapist and other cancer experts across a variety of disciplines.
Learn about our neurosurgery programs at our hospitals in Philadelphia, Tulsa and suburban Chicago.
Video: Meet Dr. St. ClairMeet Dr. St. Clair
Neurosurgery for brain cancer
Our comprehensive neurosurgical treatment program provides a full range of options for primary and metastatic cancers of the brain. Your treatment plan may include: traditional surgical approaches (e.g., resection of the tumor), radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapies.
Minimally invasive surgical techniques
Brain surgery typically focuses on removing the tumor in its entirety. In the past, the surgeon would make large incisions to remove the tumor. Today, we’re often able to use more minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Where possible, endoscopy, which positions a camera next to the brain tumor, may allow for smaller surgical incisions while still allowing for complete tumor resection. The following are some potential advantages:
- Improves speed of recovery
- Lessens pain during recovery process
- Allows other cancer treatments to resume sooner
- Helps patients return to normal activities more quickly
Sophisticated brain mapping tools
We use sophisticated tools that enhance the precision and safety of brain cancer surgery. These tools allow us to remove tumors that may otherwise have been inoperable, while preserving neurological function:
Intraoperative neuronavigation uses an advanced MRI system to map areas of the brain responsible for important functions. The map then allows us to precisely plan surgery to avoid damage to those important areas.
Intraoperative electrophysiology “brain mapping” (also called motor mapping and language mapping) is like GPS for the brain. We use small electrodes placed on the outer layer of the brain to stimulate the brain and areas around the tumor. This helps us locate regions of the brain to avoid, such as those responsible for speech or movement.
Delivering other treatments during brain cancer surgery
We can also deliver other cancer treatments at the time of surgical resection. For example, during surgery we can deliver local chemotherapy, also known as BCNU, or Gliadel®, wafers directly to the brain. This technique targets chemotherapy to the brain tumor and resection area, helping to minimize side effects related to systemic chemotherapy, like nausea and vomiting.
In addition, another treatment under investigational use for brain cancer treatment is intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). With this technology, we can deliver radiation directly to the area of the tumor resection at the time of surgery, helping to avoid damage to adjacent normal structures, particularly the scalp and the skin on the scalp.