A Secret to Laser Brain Surgery? Slice the MRI Machine in Half
GE – In the early 1990s, Harvard radiologist Dr. Ferenc Jolesz devised a clever way for killing brain tumors with a laser. But he ran into a hard obstacle: the skull.
Jolesz wanted to send a laser beam along a fiber optic strand inserted through a hole in the patient’s cranium. The beam’s intense heat would destroy the target. But he couldn’t see where the beam was going. “It was like trying to evaporate an apple seed inside a whole apple without cutting it.”
Jolesz thought magnetic resonance imaging could help. The right MRI machine would allow doctors to see inside the body, monitor temperature changes inside the skull, and perform surgery at the same time.
One problem: a machine like this did not exist. Then as now, most MRI machines enclosed the patient in a tunnel at the center of the magnet. This design made brain surgery impossible.
But a GE executive who knew about Jolesz’s project introduced him to Trifon Laskaris, a medical imaging pioneer working at GE’s research labs in upstate New York. Laskaris listened to Jolesz and came back with a design that sliced the multi-ton MRI magnet in half. The redesigned machine looked like a double donut with enough space between the two rings to give the surgeon access to the patient. “We could image the patient and operate at the same time,” Jolesz says. “Not only laser procedures could be done, but all types of open surgeries.” more> http://tinyurl.com/l2expyb