Borderland’s first awake brain surgery successfully performed at Del Sol Medical Center

El Paso News

Courtesy Del Sol Medical Center

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Borderland’s first neurosurgical operation with an awake patient has been successfully completed.

The procedure took place on September 1, 2021 at Del Sol Medical Center to remove a malignant glioma by Dr. Harold Smith, Neurosciences Medical Director for Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare.

For the first time in the region, fluorescence-assisted brain tumor mapping was used to identify and remove a malignant brain tumor in the temporal and parietal lobes, located on the side of the brain near the semantic speech region. 

“The wiring here is intimately related to the generation of speech,” says Smith.

The fluorescent technique is used to help visualize cancerous tumors and enhance accuracy of recession during the surgery. 

The technique is performed by first giving the patient a medication before the surgery that causes the cancerous cells to “glow,” which makes identification easier for the surgeon. 

The patient’s tumor was located in the region of the brain that controls speech, which required a multidisciplinary team of experts to monitor the patient’s speech throughout the procedure.

The technique helped Smith verify that the patient’s speech was not impacted as the tumor was removed.

“We proceeded with removal of the tumor using a combination of technologies including stereotactic navigation — which is basically like a GPS for your head that allows us to know where the tumor is,” says Smith.

In fact, the patient was able to call his wife during the procedure.

“We mapped out where the critical speech areas were, so we knew where they were in relation to the tumor so we could avoid those critical areas,” he adds.

After the surgery, the patient continued to be awake, with his speech intact. 

“Our team performed flawlessly and the patient was able to be discharged within 24 hours with no deficits,” says Smith.

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.