A revolution has begun to take hold in hospitals around the country as both surgeons and diagnosticians move from a one-size-fits-all form of diagnosis and treatment to a more personalized form of medicine. Yale Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Biomedical Engineering James Duncan and collaborators from around the world have developed a novel imaging system for epilepsy surgery. This advanced technique integrates preoperative images, light cameras, and interactive algorithms, allowing neurosurgeons to operate with great precision.
While this imaging system makes use of current hardware, the technological breakthrough lies in the imaging algorithms that provide surgeons with a continuously updated interface, pinpointing the tissue to be eliminated. Previously, a pre-operative craniotomy would isolate the neural tissue responsible for the epileptic seizures while light cameras would assist surgeons during the operation. Craniotomies can cause brain swelling, however, introducing great variability and forcing surgeons to excise a greater amount of vital tissue. Now, with a better understanding of brain biomechanics, algorithms have been designed to account for brain tissue deformation, thereby enabling a much higher degree of precision when tracking the culpable tissue.
Having broken new ground in epileptic surgeries, Duncan suggests that such technology could be used for treating brain tumors, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and even heart disease. As he states, “The goal is to transform dense, noisy information into useful, intelligent information. The clinical angle is to get new and better information for improved decision-making, and on another level the goal is to get quantitative information that can be studied scientifically and lead to further breakthroughs.” As medicine evolves to become more personal and precise, technological advancements such as these promise a higher standard of medical care.