Awake Surgery for Brain Tumors

VIDEO | 04:00

Meet the Memorial Sloan Kettering neurosurgeons and other experts who work as a team to perform brain tumor surgery while a patient is awake, which can improve the safety and effectiveness of the procedure.

Neurosurgeons Philip Gutin and Viviane Tabar explain that awake surgery may be used when a tumor is near the speech or movement areas of the brain. Having the patient awake during portions of the procedure allows our surgeons to ensure that the patient is able to continue moving and speaking without difficulty.

Nicole Brennan, a functional MRI specialist, explains how a functional MRI is performed prior to the awake surgery to produce a map showing language and motor areas in the region of the tumor, which helps guide neurosurgeons during the procedure.

Toward the beginning of the procedure, surgeons ask the patient to count or name objects to map the speech areas of the brain. They also stimulate the brain to watch movements and map the motor regions of the brain. This allows surgeons to plan a path to the tumor that will protect critical functioning.

In the operating room, our experts use surgical navigation and an intraoperative MRI to ensure that as much of the tumor is removed as possible and that the motor and speech areas are protected, says neurosurgeon Cameron Brennan.