Cambridge Researchers Develop New Technique to 'Listen' Patient's Brain During Tumour Operation

A research team of the University of Cambridge, UK has developed a new technique that enables surgeons to listen to a patient's brain activity while performing tumour surgery.

They have developed a method which facilitates a more accurate and personalised 'read-out' of patient's brain networks.

During surgery, once the patient’s skull has been opened, the surgeon will place electrodes on the surface of the brain to 'listen' to brain activity.

A computer algorithm will then analyse the information as the patient performs cognitive tests. giving live feedback to the surgeon.

This will enable the surgeon to predict more accurately the likely impact of removing a particular area of brain tissue.

It is expected that the technique will offer real-time feedback on the patient's brain activity in operation theatre.

In some cases, brain tumour removal can result in the removal of vital parts of the brain, leading to impairments in functions such as speech, movement and executive function.

To avoid these risks, a local anesthetic is used and surgeons apply mild electric pulses to tissue surrounding the tumour while asking the patient to perform certain tasks. This approach is time-consuming and may miss certain areas important for certain functions.

The new technique is intended to enhance the accuracy of the procedure and reduce the risk of impairing brain function.

Implementation of new technique involves various neuro-imaging exams using MRI, before surgery, in order to identify the  tumour's exact location and establish the communication between different regions of the brain.

A 3D-printed copy of the patient's brain will be used by the surgeons to help plan the surgery.

The algorithm will offer live feedback to the surgeon, allowing more accurate prediction of the possible impact of removing a specific area of brain tissue.

The new technique will guide the surgeon and save time and make surgery more efficient, more accurate.

It will also enable the surgeons to understand how patients brains adapt to the presence of a tumour and how well they recover from surgery.