In computer-assisted brain surgery, surgeons use imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), intraoperative MRI, computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, to create a 3D model of your brain. This may be done before, or in some cases during, your surgery.

This model allows your brain surgeon (neurosurgeon) to plan the safest way to treat your condition. During your surgery, the computer system precisely guides your surgeon to the area(s) of your brain requiring treatment.

Why it's done

Computer-assisted brain surgery is used to treat a variety of conditions affecting the brain, including brain tumors, Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, epilepsy and arteriovenous malformations.

If you have a brain tumor, your surgeon may combine computer-assisted surgery with awake brain surgery.

Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons also use computer-assisted techniques to treat brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia and other conditions with precisely focused beams of radiation using brain stereotactic radiosurgery.

If you have epilepsy, Parkinson's disease or essential tremor, computer-assisted surgery may involve deep brain stimulation. Your surgeons may use an MRI to help map your brain and plot the placement of the electrodes.

Computer-assisted brain surgery care at Mayo Clinic

April 21, 2022
  1. Stereotactic radiosurgery. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Stereotactic-Radiosurgery. Accessed Oct. 23, 2021.
  2. Chen CC, et al. Stereotactic cranial neurosurgery. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 23, 2021.
  3. Edwards CA, et al. Neurostimulation devices for the treatment of neurologic disorders. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017; doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.05.005.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Deep brain stimulation. Mayo Clinic; 2021.
  5. Deep brain stimulation. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Deep-Brain-Stimulation. Accessed Oct. 23, 2021.
  6. Braswell-Pickering EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. Nov. 15, 2021.

Computer-assisted brain surgery