Science

Cardiff university first to develop new brain surgery technique

By Lucy Bull

Cardiff University is set to become the first UK university to deliver a new brain surgical technique. Known as TONES (transorbital neuro-endoscopic surgery), it has potential use in treating individuals who would otherwise need open brain surgery.

It is thanks to Professor Kris Moe, a worldrenowned surgeon who has been assisting the skull base surgery team here at the university, that TONES has come to Cardiff. Professor Moe established this sophisticated technique in Seattle, where he is Professor of surgeries of the ear, nose and throat.

The TONES procedure involves the introduction of a small cut through or behind the eyelid, which allows entry to the brain via the eye socket. One of the many advantages of this revolutionary procedure is it enables surgeons to accomplish complex and risky operations on the brain without it being moved, reducing potential risks.

This advanced technique further conserves the optic nerve from any damage, which is responsible for sending visual information from the retina in the eye to the brain. Additionally, the TONES technique protects the nerves responsible for smell; the carotid arteries, responsible for blood flow to the neck, face and brain; and the ophthalmic arteries, consisting of smaller arterial branches that supply blood to the inner retinal layers and back of the eye.

History of brain surgery goes back to over 4,000 years ago across Peru and later in Africa, Greece, and Ancient Rome, where the tools for these operations were made simply of metal. Brain surgery has majorly advanced since this time. Currently, surgeons enter the brain through an opening in the skull and remove a bone flap. However, potential risks remain, including complications with speech, memory and vision. With 11,432 new cases of brain tumours in the UK in 2015 (according to Cancer Research UK), there is an increasing demand for brain surgery each year and it is becoming a more common procedure nationwide.

TONES is therefore key to improving the recovery of patients after the trauma of brain surgery and could be an important stepping stone towards future cutting-edge medical technology. It demonstrates our constant advances in medicine and how we are moving towards more efficient surgeries that could change the state of medicine altogether. Thanks to Kris Moe, patients at the University Hospital of Wales will soon be able to experience this state of the art procedure.

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