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Hovering Between Worlds: Awake During Brain Surgery

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Awake brain surgery is typically performed to treat epileptic seizures or remove tumors without clear borders that have spread throughout the brain
  • Because the tumors are often close to brain regions responsible for controlling vision, language and movement, it would be too dangerous to attempt to remove them while the patient is completely under anesthesia, as doing so could result in a significant loss of function
  • Awake brain surgery allows neurosurgeons to remove or shrink tumors that may otherwise be inoperable, while preserving the patient’s speech and other skills, such as playing a musical instrument
  • There are practical benefits to being awake during brain surgery, including lower cost and avoiding the risks of general anesthesia
  • In the U.S., an estimated 700,000 people are living with a primary brain tumor and 87,000 more will be diagnosed with one in 2020

There are certain areas in which conventional medicine excels, and the ability to perform brain surgery to remove tumors is one of them. This is particularly true in the case of awake brain surgery, also known as intraoperative brain mapping, which is performed while the patient is sedated but awake.

Awake brain surgery is typically performed to treat epileptic seizures or remove tumors without clear borders that have spread throughout the brain. Because the tumors are often close to brain regions responsible for controlling vision, language and movement, it would be too dangerous to attempt to remove them while the patient is completely under anesthesia, as doing so could result in a significant loss of function.


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