(NBC) - Singer Sheryl Crow was treated for a benign but serious brain tumor called a meningioma. Although benign, it can spread and can lead to severe symptoms, even death.
Treatment usually requires a major operation. But now there's an alternative.
As a painter, Agneta Sjofors depends on all of her senses. But one morning something wasn't right.
Tests showed Agneta had a brain tumor, a meningioma, right in the front of her brain. It was affecting her vision and smell and giving her severe headaches. She needed surgery quickly.
But Agneta didn't want conventional surgery. So she went online and found Dr. Hrayr Shahinian at the skull base institute who's developed a minimally invasive form of brain surgery requiring only a tiny incision, smaller than the size of a dime.
Tools developed in partnership with Pasadena's jet propulsion laboratory. As you can see in this animation it starts with the doctor inserting a tiny HD camera into the incision in an eye brow, he then finds the tumor by traveling inside the fluid between the skull and the brain.
And by getting the tumor out quickly. Using his special instruments he cuts the tumor into small pieces and removes it; never moving the brain or touching normal tissue . As a result, Agneta only spent two days in the hospital; unlike other brain surgeries requiring weeks in the intensive care unit. Instead she's back home painting and her symptoms are gone.
This method can't treat all brain tumors. But for qualifying patients, it can cut risk and recovery time.
New versions of these surgical tools are in the works, including a new camera.
It will be the world's smallest and provide a 3D image of the brain, making it easier for the surgeon to visualize what he or she is doing.
The doctor's ultimate goal? Same day brain surgery.