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Pulling Out Tumors Through Your Nose


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Pulling Out Tumors Through Your Nose


Brain surgery involves actually cracking open skulls, which often leads to post-op complications and a lengthy recovery. But Amin Kassam, chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and director of its Minimally Invasive Endoneurosurgery Center, has found a way to leave your melon intact: He performs brain surgery through the nose. Kassam, who helped pioneer the technique in the late 1990s, enters the nostril and goes into the sinus cavity, where he drills a small "keyhole" into the base of the skull. He then carefully peels away the three membranes that encase the brain to access the entire bottom half of the organ, a region that extends between the forehead to the top of the spine and from ear to ear.


Using angled endoscopes he designed himself and guided by a GPS-like system that tracks the scopes and maps the brain in near real time, Kassam cuts up and suctions out tumors or repairs aneurysms in an otherwise conventional manner. He then patches the keyhole with a flap of tissue from the nostril, leaving no visible scars and only a minor incision to heal. In many cases, patients are back on their feet in a matter of days, instead of weeks.


To date, Kassam has performed more than 750 procedures (in one notable case, he removed a baseball-size tumor from a young boy's head) and teaches the technique to surgeons every year. He is one of only a handful of surgeons in the U.S. who perform the surgery, but he thinks that number will grow as more surgeons realize the benefits. "As long as the important stuff?like nerves and major blood vessels?is on the outside," he says, "I'll come from the inside."?Jason Daley


Image: By going through the nose, what were once incredibly invasive procedures now leave no visible scar.



From http://www.popsci.com/popsci/technology/dd...bccdrcrd/3.html

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