Mapping Technology Lowers Risk During Brain Surgery

July 15, 2019

Technion biomedical engineering student Shaked Ron took first place at the annual project fair at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, showcasing the faculty’s fourth-year student projects. Shaked was awarded for the development of advanced methods in mapping the functional areas of the cerebral cortex during awake brain surgery.

While operating in the brain, it is critical to avoid damaging regions that are responsible for language, motor, and sensory functions. Performing brain surgery while the patient is awake allows neurosurgeons to map these areas with precision, by requiring patients to perform tasks such as talking, counting, and wiggling their toes.

Shaked’s winning project uses electrocorticography (ECoG), which could optimize and replace electrical cortical stimulation (ECS), the traditional mapping method that has long been the gold standard. ECoG maps brain activity while synchronizing between assignment of tasks to the patient and recording of electrical signals from the cortex. Once the information has been processed, the system presents an image-support decision to the team in the operating room. Because the process does not require stimulation, experts believe it will reduce a patient’s risk during surgery.

The work was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Firas Mawase and Dr. Amit Livneh of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Omer Zarchi of the Rabin Medical Center.
“Awake craniotomy is usually performed in cases of brain cancer or severe epilepsy,” said Shaked Ron. “Functional mapping is performed during the operation, allowing the removal of as much of the abnormal tissue as possible without damaging brain function.”

Professor Shulamit Levenberg, dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, said the project fair is one of the high points of the faculty’s year. She thanked Liat and Doron Adler, who donated the prizes, and Associate Professor Nati Korin, who is responsible for the project course.

“The projects presented by the students bring to the realization all the knowledge they have accumulated in the faculty during their years of study,” said Prof. Levenberg. “As in the world outside of academia, students are required to combine many skills, including engineering thinking, teamwork, creativity, entrepreneurial thinking, and cooperation with various laboratories and companies.”

Shaked is a double degree track student in medicine and biomedical engineering, and is currently studying in the Gutfreund Laboratory at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. He also works at Mazor Robotics, which helps surgeons perform accurate surgeries, and is based on technology developed by Professor Moshe Shoham. Mazor was recently acquired by U.S.-based Medtronic for $1.6 billion.

In second place, students Ameer Lawen and Majd Machour were awarded for their research in intercellular communication based on volatile organic components. The work was supervised by Dr. Arbel Artzy-Schnirman from the laboratory of Prof. Hossam Haick in the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at Technion.

Students Auralie Abehssera and Natalie Cohen won third prize for the development of an automatic process for the preparation of nanometric particles for treating head and neck cancer. The work was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Artzy-Schnirman, and Hagit Sason Bauer in the laboratory of Dr. Yosi Shamay of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Technion.

In fourth place, students Ofri Goldenberg and Yuval Ben Sasson were awarded for developing a technology for the automatic monitoring of a genetic disorder that influences heart function. The work was conducted under the supervision of Ido Weiser Bitoun and Aviv Rosenberg in the laboratory of Prof. Yael Yaniv of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.

Fifth place went to students Gal Shleifer and Yael Pistunovich, who developed a recording system for the analysis of cardiovascular signals. Their work was also done under the supervision of Dr. Yaron Blinder and doctoral candidates Rosenberg and Bitoun in Prof. Yaniv’s laboratory.

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