iMRI: Removing Brain Tumors in Kids


MIAMI. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Nearly 5,000 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. Now new technology is helping doctors remove these tumors and save children from additional surgery.

Willie and Pleshette Young know raising five kids isn’t easy, but nothing could have prepared them when Willie Jr.,6, got sick.

Willie, Willie Jr.’s father told Ivanhoe, “Out of nowhere it was,’ I’m having headaches dad, I’m having headaches mom.”

A CT scan detected a life-threatening situation. Willie Jr. was rushed to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami for emergency surgery.

Toba Niazi, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital detailed, “He had a lot of pressure on his brain from a mass that was growing in the center of his brain.”

Doctors had to remove the tumor right away. It often takes more than one surgery. Now intraoperative MRI is changing that.

“What this technology does is it brings MRI imaging, direct imaging, of the brain without radiation into the operating room,” said John Ragheb, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

The iMRI allows doctors to check their work during or right after surgery.

“If there’s a piece of that tumor that’s remaining that we weren’t able to discern during surgery then we can go in and take that last piece out,” explained Dr. Niazi, which is preventing the child from another operation and anesthesia.

“Any sort of lesion in the brain, I think this really needs to be the gold standard,” continued Dr. Niazi.

Thanks to the iMRI, doctors were able to remove most of Willie Jr.’s tumor without causing damage.

Willie Jr.’s mother Pleshette told Ivanhoe, “I just thank god and the technology that was used during the surgery to bring our baby back.”

So Willie Jr. can keep playing with his siblings for years to come.

Doctors say they will continue to monitor Willie Jr.’s condition very closely to see if further treatment is needed.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Janna Ross, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Judy Reich, Videographer.


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REPORT:       MB #4259

BACKGROUND: There are no widely recommended screening tests for most children to look for brain tumors before they start to cause symptoms. These tumors usually are found as a result of signs or symptoms the child is having. Tumors in any part of the brain might raise the pressure inside the skull. This can be caused by growth of the tumor, swelling in the brain, or blocked flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Increased pressure can result in symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, crossed eyes or blurred vision, balance problems, behavior changes, seizures, and drowsiness or even coma. In some children, seizures are the first symptom of a brain tumor. Most seizures in children are not caused by brain tumors, but if your child has a seizure, your child’s doctor may refer you to a neurologist to make sure it was not caused by a tumor.


iMRI: Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) is a procedure to create images of the brain during surgery. Neurosurgeons rely on iMRI technology to create accurate pictures of the brain that guide them in removing brain tumors and other abnormalities during operations. Though doctors use imaging tests to plan brain surgery, real-time images created with iMRI are crucial to locate abnormalities if the brain has shifted, and distinguish abnormal brain tissue from normal brain tissue. MRI uses magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. Some hospitals have nearby iMRI devices kept in a room adjacent to the operating room, and some have portable iMRI devices that can be moved into the operating room.


PEDIATRIC NEUROSURGERY: iMRI’s are beneficial to both children and adults with brain tumors.  In a study that focused on iMRI technology in pediatric neurosurgery published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that iMRI was most helpful for small tumors with poor differentiation from surrounding brain tissue and large tumors with surrounding edema (swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues). One of the hospitals that uses iMRI technology in pediatric neurosurgery is Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. You can get more information about them by following this link:



Jennifer Caminas

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Toba Niazi, M.D.

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