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Intraoperative MRI for Epilepsy

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a powerful tool that allows neurosurgeons to see the difference between healthy and diseased brain tissue. It is such a valuable tool that we’ve brought MRI machines into the operating room.

In most operating rooms, neurosurgeons must make their best estimation when operating on brain tissue during surgery. It isn't until a MRI is completed after surgery — sometimes days or weeks later — that the true success of the procedure is known.

Barnes-Jewish was the fourth hospital in the world to introduce intraoperative MRI (iMRI). This advanced imaging lets neurosurgeons see MRI images during surgery, so they can more precisely remove damaged brain tissue, while safeguarding areas of the brain that are critical for function. Our neurosurgeons are highly experienced in intraoperative MRI, now performing more than 200 MRI-guided surgeries per year.

iMRI is an effective tool in epilepsy surgery for seizure control, as well as for brain tumors and vascular surgery. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, recognized as an Epilepsy Center of Excellence, our neurology team collaborates to determine what epilepsy treatment is right for your individual needs, including iMRI.

Using iMRI for Epilepsy Surgery

Intraoperative MRI gives neurosurgeons access to real-time MRI images during surgery, providing our operating rooms with the most advanced imaging technology in the world. The equipment, called VISIUS Surgical Theatre, can move between two operating rooms, so separate neurosurgical teams can conduct two procedures simultaneously. If needed, our neurosurgeons can videoconference to consult with other medical experts worldwide during the procedure.

While neurosurgeons enjoy the advanced technology of VISIUS, patients are the real benefactors. The use of this imaging system is much safer, as the patient is never moved once they are positioned for surgery. The high-resolution images lead to better precision in complicated neurosurgery techniques, allowing for more targeted removal of the region of brain causing seizures. iMRI enables our team to perform minimally invasive brain laser surgery for our epilepsy patients, as well as awake craniotomies.

This advanced technology is coupled with the specialized expertise of physicians skilled in the fields of neurosurgery and neurology, neuropathology and neuroradiology. The addition of intraoperative MRI gives our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center team the opportunity to continue to provide the most advanced care available to patients with epilepsy.

To make an appointment with a Washington University epileptologist, neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

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