Neurosurgeons have performed highly complex brain surgery to remove tumours through a small incision in a landmark procedure in California.

The surgeons at UC San Diego Health System used 3D imaging, computer simulation and next-generation surgical tools in the operation. Spectrum imaging was used to visualise the brain’s neural fibers, the orientation of which determines the trajectory to a tumour.

After surgical planning, a two-inch incision was made near the patient’s hairline, and a ‘quarter-sized’ hole made in the skull. Surgery was then carried out through a thin tube-like retractor that created a narrow path to the tumor; assisted by a robotic arm and high-resolution cameras, the team safely removed two tumours within millimetre precision.

Neurosurgeon Clark C. Chen MD, PhD, neurosurgeon, San Diego Health System said: "The conventional approach to excising these tumours [located at the base of the skull] involves long skin incisions and removal of a large piece of skull. This new minimally invasive approach is far less radical. It decreases the risk of the surgery and shortens the patient’s hospital stay."