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Allegheny General Hospital Utilizing Robots To Assist With Brain Surgery

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Michael Ban was out with friends when he noticed his vision was off and he couldn't put together sentences. They took him to the emergency room thinking it was a stroke.

A brain scan showed something else - a tumor.

He had a biopsy the next day.

"It came back that it was cancerous. Not only that, but it was rather aggressive," says Michael.

The doctors recommended immediate surgery. Michael agreed, "Let's get this. Let's get this fixed."

The tumor was near the part of the brain controlling speech and language. What the surgeon told Michael next surprised him.

"You're also going to be awake for the surgery, which is something that I didn't anticipate going in," says Michael.

His surgeon wanted to be super accurate and efficient, so he used a new robot to assist with the procedure.

"It makes surgery a little more automated than it has been," says Allegheny General Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Alexander Yu.

(Source: Allegheny Health Network)

The camera is connected to the GPS navigation system that uses many, many scans to create a map of the brain, including its highly intricate connecting fibers

"I can concentrate on taking the tumor out, and as I move, the camera moves with me," says Dr. Yu. "I can work around the microscope, I can position my body, sometimes, a little more ergonomically."

There is ongoing analysis to see if surgeons make fewer hand movements when the robot assists. Whether the robot decreases complications is still being studied.

The robot has been in use at Allegheny General Hospital for about five months now, and the team has done about 50 cases with it. Using the robot does not cost the patient anything extra.

Michael has had chemo and radiation after his surgery in February. Because of the robot, he feels more confident that the tumor was completely removed. He is eager to move on.

"Ready to get back to work, and see everyone again," Michael says. "Just getting back into the normal swing of things. That's what I'm looking forward to most."

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