Glioma is a type of tumour that originates in the supportive cells in the brain and spinal cord — or otherwise known as glial cells. Symptoms of glioma can vary depending on the size and location of the tumour, and may include headaches, seizures, vision problems, speech difficulties, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, and personality changes. In the course of years, surgery remains the standard approach to glioma. With the advancement of intraoperative techniques such as neuronavigation and stimulation mapping, early diagnosis and safe removal of glioma have been made possible.
Brain surgery (also known as craniotomy) is typically performed under general anaesthesia with the balance of maximal tumour resection and maximal preservation of critical brain functions. Often, a sample of the tumour is removed and examined by a pathologist to help with further diagnosis and treatment planning.
At NUH, we specialise in the resection of gliomas via Awake Brain Surgery (or awake craniotomy), where the patient is deliberately awake for a portion of the procedure. The aim of such surgery is to maintain different complex neurological functions (e.g., memory, speech, language, and movement) and to ensure a good quality of life by maximising tumour resection and reducing postoperative sequelae. In this aspect, pre- and intra-surgical evaluation of a patient’s capabilities, functionalities, and quality of life requires careful monitoring.
Following surgery, patients would undergo an individually-tailored rehabilitation programme with the neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, as well as rehabilitation doctors. Other treatment options such as radiosurgery and chemotherapy may also be offered for any remaining cancerous cells or tissues after the surgery.