Neurosurgeons at Lafayette General Medical Center (LGMC) are pioneering a new technology for patients needing complex brain surgeries. With a recent brain tumor procedure, Lafayette General Medical Center became the first hospital in Louisiana, and only the second location in the world, to utilize a GPS-like brain surgery system called BrightMatter Servo Solution.
This system, by Synaptive Medical, Inc., helps neurosurgeons navigate the brain’s 3D fiber tractography. Servo uses three elements – robotic-assisted lighting and optics, GPS-like guidance and navigation planning software – to help the neurosurgeon see the target. Another new technology used in conjunction with BrightMatter Servo, called BrainPath, allows the surgeon to access the abnormality where it can then be removed through a narrow corridor using an opening the size of a dime. LGMC has been using BrainPath since February 2014 and was one of the first hospitals in the country to adopt the technology.
“It’s just incredible that we are the second hospital in the world with this amazing technology,” said LGMC CEO Patrick Gandy. “Our neurosurgeons now have a surgical tool that offers more information in planning these complex procedures. Brain surgeries are very delicate operations and this system provides opportunities to decrease trauma to the brain and minimize risk to the patient’s brain function.”
LGMC’s first case with the BrightMatter Servo was April 22. Neurosurgeon Alan Appley, M.D., performed a procedure to remove a difficult brain tumor from a patient that was an ideal candidate for this system. By integrating digital mapping and 3D imaging, BrightMatter Servo provides a neurosurgeon with optimized visualization, piloted by an automated tracking system outfitted with a surgical scope.
“This is a great tool,” says Dr. Appley. “It is a huge step ahead from what we’ve been using. We are excited to have this technology available in Lafayette.”
Dr. Appley explains that the robotic arm that repositions the light and optics for the surgeon offers several advantages. It saves time, as the surgeon can now change the position of the light with a tap of a foot pedal to view the surgical field. Previously, a surgeon would have to pause surgery to manually readjust and re-secure the light. Dr. Appley said up to 50% of his time in surgery was spent configuring the light. Those days are over. Less time in surgery reduces stress on the patient, lessens the risks of infection and allows the surgeon to be more focused for the duration of the surgery.
In addition to improved lighting, the 3D tractography of the brain’s fibers allows the surgeon more efficient navigation of the brain. Through the combined planning, 3D visualization and tracking elements of the system, a surgeon has more information, which provides better control during surgery and in planning the surgery.
“Taken as a whole, the Servo is better for the surgeon, and that’s ultimately better for the patient,” says Dr. Appley.
The biomedical engineer that helped create the Servo platform, Synaptive’s Trevor Dell, was present to witness this breakthrough surgery at LGMC.
“As an engineer, your number one job is to solve problems,” says Dell. “Neurosurgeons around the world struggle with the problem of getting the best possible view of a patient’s brain so they are able to effectively and efficiently complete the surgical procedure. Working on our robotics platform was a chance to make an innovative idea a reality, and I’m proud to know that this breakthrough could help people who truly need it.”
BrightMatter Servo was developed to support BrainPath, developed by NICO Corp., a medical device manufacturer in Indianapolis. But, the Servo system may also be used in conventional surgery.
LGMC was an ideal location to introduce the Servo innovation as it offered surgeons and patients a more complete surgical solution using a fully integrated approach to brain path surgery. In 2014, LGMC was named a designated BrainPath Center by NICO Corp. for utilizing its “Six Pillar Approach” to brain surgery using the BrainPath access technology. Dr. Appley was also first in Louisiana to use the Six Pillar Approach.
“We know by looking at the results from other medical specialties that advanced visualization and minimally disruptive or minimally invasive technologies make a powerful combination to improve patient outcomes,” says Jim Pearson, president and CEO of NICO Corporation. “Together, we are stronger and more capable of meeting a very significant unmet patient need.”