Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) doctors have performed an intricate and life-saving surgery on a 55-year-old female patient while she was awake – marking the first time this procedure has been successfully performed in Qatar using cortical brain mapping technology.
“The surgery – known as an Awake Craniotomy – was performed on a patient with a brain lesion and metastatic brain tumour,” said Dr Sirajeddin Belkhair, head of the Neurosurgery Department and Neurosurgery Residency Programme director at HMC. “We used cortical mapping and stimulation to identify an important area of the brain.”
Awake brain surgery is performed while the patient is awake and alert. When the brain is exposed, neurosurgeons and an electrophysiology team perform a procedure called cortical mapping. The procedure involves stimulating the brain's surface with a tiny electrical probe and is used to treat brain (neurological) conditions such as tumours, epileptic seizures and brain vascular abnormalities.
Dr Belkhair said awake brain surgery allows surgeons to ask patients to perform a series of speaking, reading and movement tests while stimulating the exposed brain, enabling them to map the safest route to a tumour.
“At the start of the operation, during skin incision and removing the skull, the patient was given a small dose of sedative medication by the anesthesia team. Then I woke her up when we exposed her brain,” said Dr Belkhair.
“While I was doing the surgery, I was chatting with the patient and asking her to move her right upper and lower extremities to make sure that we were preserving her function. We also used a special navigation system to precisely locate the tumor in the patient’s brain. Monitoring brain performance as the surgeon operates helps ensure the brain remains safe while the tumour is removed,” added Dr Belkhair.
The surgery took less than three hours and an MRI scan done the following day showed the complete removal of the brain tumour.
“We were able to discharge the patient two days after the surgery. Being able to remove the tumor using this technique enables patients to recover faster and this leads to a better quality of life by significantly reducing the chance of operative complications,” said Dr Belkhair.
The surgery was performed in collaboration with the Anaesthesia Department and the lead anaesthetist was Dr Jafar Faraj, senior consultant.
Dr Abdulla al-Ansari, chief medical officer at HMC, said the success of the procedure was a milestone for the Neurosurgery team and for HMC.
“We are continually striving to bring the latest advanced techniques to the people of Qatar and to improve the quality of care we can provide. With our highly trained neurosurgery team being able to provide this procedure successfully in Qatar for the first time, this means our patients do not need to travel for this type of specialised care,” said Dr al-Ansari.
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