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Brain-mapping Surgery

Brain Mapping is a technique physicians use to identify critical parts of the brain. The mapping process is part of a treatment for a patient who has a tumor on or near the brain’s most important functional areas. The technique helps surgeons to plan a brain surgery and avoid damaging the critical areas.

The mapping is typically begun with external scans like an MRI. When an “awake brain surgery” is called for, the patient is put under anesthesia, and surgeons cut through the patient’s scalp and skull (called a craniotomy). When the tumor is isolated, the patient is gently and gradually woken up, and the doctors talk to him or her as they map the shape of the tumor, making sure that the parts of the brain that control speech and movement won’t be harmed. The patient experiences no discomfort during this process.

The doctors remove as much of the tumor as is safely possible and the patient is put back under sedation while surgeons close the incision. With this technique, a tumor can be resected (cut to a small size) or removed without causing long-term problems for speech, thinking or motor function.

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