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A Halifax brain surgeon has removed a brain tumour after using a virtual reality-based simulator, a medical advance considered to be a world first.

A neurosurgical team took pictures of a patient's brain using an MRI at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

Neurosurgeon Dr. David Clarke then mapped out the tumour and his surgical approach using a virtual reality neurosurgical simulator, and this week he removed the tumour.

"This means we are able to do a dry run of the surgery to better determine how to remove the tumour safely," Dr. Clarke said in a statement Thursday.

"By practising surgeries in advance of the real thing, we'll be better able to anticipate and fix potential problems before they occur."

The simulator, developed by the National Research Council, will become an important part of neurosurgical training, he added.

The council is preparing to deliver seven prototypes of the simulator to Canadian hospitals over the next two years.

Brain tumour surgery is a high-risk operation because of the potential for damage to surrounding brain tissue and the possibility of tumour recurrence.

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