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October 1, 1982

Laser-CT scanner-computer linkups hint of neurosurgery of future

JAMA. 1982;248(13):1545-1551. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330130007003

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Layer by layer, in a kind of horizontal slicing approach, a laser vaporizes the cells of a brain tumor.

Following a neoplasm's irregular contours deep within a brain is a demanding task, yet the neurosurgeon's hands never waver. In fact, those hands will not touch either the laser or the patient during this phase of microsurgery, unless bleeding or some other complication arises.

Instead, the laser is directed by a computer that, thanks to a tomographic stereotactic system, has constructed a three-dimensional map of the tumor. Now, using that three-D model as its guide, the computer is directing the laser more precisely than any human could ever do....

No, this human-hands-off, completely computer-controlled approach hasn't yet become part of neurosurgery. But it is the stuff from which tomorrow's journal articles may be compiled.

One person who sees such automated laser surgery on the horizon is Patrick J. Kelly, MD, associate