Neurosurgery with robotic assistance is getting pretty old hat nowadays, so it looks like scientists are trying to up the difficulty factor by keeping their patients awake -- a team of French doctors just completed the first successful removal of malignant brain tumor from a still-conscious patient, using a computerized laser and an MRI scanner to guide the probe. The fiber-optic laser was fed into the brain through a 3mm (.12 inch) hole in the patient's skull and guided via MRI to the tumor, where it fired for two minutes and completely destroyed the cancerous tissue. Once the tumor cells were dead, the cable was removed and the patient was allowed to return home -- all within a single day. That's pretty impressive, and it comes on the heels of 15 similar trials where five out six patients who underwent the total removal procedure were cancer-free nine months after surgery. The team says further research will cost an additional two million euros to progress, but if this technique works as well as they claim after peer review, we'd guess that money won't be hard to come by.

[Via Fark]