In an Australasian first, neurosurgeons at Macquarie University Hospital have introduced the BrainPath® non-disruptive cranial access technology, a new device allowing access to tumours deep within the brain without causing damage to surrounding tissue. The first patient treated with BrainPath at Macquarie University Hospital was diagnosed with a 12mm metastatic adenocarcinoma in the right frontal lobe, pressing against vital motor pathways of the brain.

She probably would have been advised against surgical removal of the tumour before the arrival of BrainPath and a new standardised surgical approach that integrates BrainPath with imaging, navigation and tissue removal technologies.

Importantly, BrainPath allows surgeons to access deep regions of the brain using its natural folds – a trans-sulcal surgical route.

The technology is essentially a highly engineered metal probe that lies inside a 14mm-wide plastic sheath. The probe, which is uniquely navigable, guides the sheath to the targeted abnormality then is removed, leaving the sheath as the corridor by which surgeons use existing instruments to remove tumour or hematoma within the brain.

“The genius of BrainPath is its ability to pass between the ‘sulci’ or folds of the brain, applying uniform pressure in all directions as it moves around tissue,” said Dr. Andrew Davidson, who performed the procedure after receiving specialised training in the US.

“The probe is linked to a real-time intraoperative 3-D MRI navigation system, allowing surgeons to see exactly where they are operating.”

The BrainPath is manufactured by NICO Corporation, a world leader in developing non-invasive neurosurgical surgical systems and a new novel standardized surgical approach using advanced technologies.

It is significant in offering safer surgical opportunities for those patients who have gliomas, secondary metastatic tumours and other tumours inside the brain.

“Previously, even though we have been using minimally invasive approaches to brain surgery for more than a decade, removing a lesion often involved cutting away tissue to get to the tumour,” said Dr. Davidson.

“This conventional method poses risk to critical structures of the brain that might get permanently damaged in the process, and in cases like our first patient, we would have been limited in terms of what we could reach.”

Recovery for patients who undergo surgery using the BrainPath Approach is much faster, often resulting in reduced time in hospital.

The BrainPath device has also been approved for early clot removal in cases of intra-cerebral haemorrhage – the deadliest and most debilitating form of stroke. There is now a growing body of peer-reviewed evidence showing improved patient outcomes for both tumour removal and hemorrhagic stroke when using BrainPath.

Research from the US, where the technique has been in use since 2015, shows length of hospital stay after haemorrhagic stroke has reduced from 5.2 days to 2.8 days and time spent in the ICU has also dropped from 1.7 days to 0.9 days.

In the UK, Kings’ College Hospital in London became the first medical centre to work with the device earlier this year, and it has gained the CE Mark (European Conformity), which recognises the technique for use in more than 30 countries in the European Union.

Jim Pearson, President and CEO of NICO Corporation, said: “NICO is highly committed to the training aspect of this new approach and technology to ensure surgeons are performing surgery in a standardised way using standardised technologies to achieve repeatable clinical results.

“We are very excited that the population around Australia will now be able to benefit from these technologies and a new surgical approach that is better for the patient and the healthcare system.”