3-D Brain Surgery

April 6, 2011 3:03:55 PM PDT
We've all seen 3-D imagery used in the movies, and even those video games children beg their parents to buy. Now, that same technology is making its debut in the operating room.

Even when they can't get to the water, David Kuncas and his son still make time to practice the fundamentals of fishing. David had to put his hobby on hiatus after being hit with constant back pain, sleep apnea and carpal tunnel syndrome. His weight even fluctuated 60 pounds.

"I was exhausted. I had no energy. Everything was just falling apart in my life," said Kuncas

A doctor diagnosed him with a rare disease known as acromegaly, the same condition that caused wrestling star Andre the Giant to grow. Doctors found 16 times the normal amount of growth hormone in Kuncas's body, caused by a pea-sized tumor in his pituitary gland.

Neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania were able to help Kuncas by using a new three-dimensional procedure called Endoscopic Brain Surgery.

"The 3-D helps me to be safer with resection around critical structures," said Dr. John Y.K. Lee, Neurosurgeon from the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Special goggles allow neurosurgeons to see the brain in three-dimensions and interact with the image to plan the best surgical technique for each patient. The technology results in a less-invasive surgical process, using smaller incisions.

Surgeons insert a 3-D endoscope through a patient's nose. Then, when they put on polarized glasses, they see a 3-D view of the brain.

"We don't have monsters jumping out at us during surgery, but it is a very similar technology," said Dr. Lee.

Surgeons were able to remove the tumor without damaging the brain or the optic nerves. Now, Kuncas is getting better every day and looking forward to a little spring fishing.

"I'm going to have this boat, and I'm going to be taking this little guy out," said Kuncas.