Developing App for Brain Surgery

“Tumors can involve or be near important brain areas that control movement, vision, and cognition or thinking abilities, so it is critical for the neurosurgeon to accurately identify these brain areas to minimize risk to the patient,” said David Sabsevitz PhD, Neuropsychologist at Froedtert Hospital and Associate Professor of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)

Until now, the number of cognitive functions that could be tested simultaneously and efficiently and the ability to collect real time analytics on how the patient is performing during surgery have so far been limited.

In some cases, patients are awakened during surgery to test the areas near the brain tumor to see if the tumor is safe to remove. This procedure called intraoperative mapping is done by stimulating the tissue around the brain tumor with an electrical current while testing different brain functions to avoid areas where the stimulation identifies important functions.

Testing is also done throughout the surgery to monitor for any changes in functions. Language mapping is the most common type of testing done during brain surgery and it can involve talking to the patient and asking simple questions.

Dr. Sabsevitz developed NeuroMapper in partnership with students at UW-Milwaukee’s App Brewery, have developed this type of cognitive mapping to use during awake brain surgery.

NeuroMapper is a tablet driven testing system that contains multiple sensory and cognitive testing paradigms based on current standards of practice, studies of brain functioning, and neurological samples.

NeuroMapper has been tested in more than 30 MCW surgical cases. In addition, Froedtert Hospital has been using NeuroMapper since early 2017, and this type of cognitive mapping is now being used at three other U.S. academic medical centers.

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