Some brain disorders that required large-scale open brain surgery in the past can now be addressed with less invasive techniques. Most brain operations have been reduced in scope due to computer-assisted localization of problem areas and operating microscopes. Some surgeries can now be done using endoscopes, which are thin metal tubes with embedded fiberoptics leading to television cameras. These scopes can be passed into the brain through small holes and instruments can be passed down thin channels to the problem areas. The surgeon controls the endoscope and watches the work on a television screen.
Some brain disorders can now be treated non-surgically with what is called stereotactic radiosurgery. This system uses computer technology to deliver very focused, high-dose radiation to small areas of the brain in one to three doses. Unlike with conventional radiation therapy, very little radiation “spills” over into the surrounding structures. This allows treatment of areas of the brain (and spine) where surgery would be of extremely high risk. The newest technology is the CyberKnife system. CyberKnife combines computer technology with robotics to deliver accurate doses of radiation, even if a patient moves during treatment. Carilion Clinic was the first hospital in Virginia to offer CyberKnife, and a team of surgeons and radiation oncologists have gained years of experience in using this system.
Learn more about CyberKnife at Carilion Clinic.