Earlier this year, Montclair Baptist Medical Center became the first hospital in Alabama to offer patients the benefits of a revolutionary new technology: a state-of-the-art surgical navigation device called the StealthStation Treon Plus. The Treon Plus uses innovative 3D imaging technology to guide surgeons through a variety of operations, including neurological and spinal procedures. Although several other hospitals in the state have earlier versions of Stealth system technology, Baptist Montclair was the first to receive the Treon Plus. In May, Montclair took the system even further by installing the latest in upgraded software and programming to their StealthStation technology.
The StealthStation system utilizes global positioning technology to give physicians real-time views inside the body, without radiation, with accuracy up to one millimeter. Prior to an operation, the patient undergoes diagnostic testing such as a CT scan or an MRI. These images are converted to 3D images showing the patient organs, muscles, tissues and nerves. Utilizing this information, the surgeon then plans his operation on the computer. Using image-guided surgery technology to create a precise, detailed plan helps surgeons to focus on the exact location they need during surgery, allowing them to make much smaller incisions with less trauma to nearby tissue.
"This technology could be described as enhanced X-ray vision that even Superman couldn't envision," says Zen Hrynkiw, MD, a neurosurgeon at Baptist Montclair who was one of the first doctors to use the new system. "The 3D images are so precise that, prior to surgery, we are able to determine the exact path to the targeted area. Then, during surgery, the StealthStation system provides a constant flow of information so that we can make any necessary adjustments." By matching pre-surgery information to the patients' real anatomy, surgeons can manipulate the view to see precisely what they need to see, allowing them to track instruments during the surgery, including the position of the instrument and the angle at which it is entering the body.
With the Stealth Station, neurosurgeons can literally see in the lobe of the brain in relation to a tumor that needs to be removed. "Brain surgery is like robbing a bank — you have to get in there and get out quickly, without setting off any alarms—and this new device is helping us to do that," he says.
Baptist Montclair was also the first hospital in the area to have Stealth software to navigate MAST and UNILATERAL minimally invasive spine procedures, offering many benefits in spinal surgery as well. According to Donald A. Deinlein, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Montclair, the StealthSystem circumvents the X-ray system, using infrared technology for spinal procedures. This allows physicians to navigate through the structure of the vertebrae and determine where to best place a pedicle screw without the use of a C-arm, which produces X-ray beams.
"During a regular operation prior to this system, the C-arm was frequently in the way of the surgeon, but with this technology we can move the C-arm out of the way. The logistics are greatly improved," he says. "The StealthSystem is better for the patient, surgeon, anesthesiologist, scrub nurse, and anyone else who may need to be in the room, since it is not advisable to use X-rays on a regular basis over a long period of time."
This image-guided surgery provides new alternatives for patients with multiple medical problems who may not have been able to tolerate large, invasive surgeries, or whose conditions may have been considered inoperable in the past. Instead of being under anesethia for four hours, the patient may only be required to be under for 30 minutes. In addition to spending less time in the operating room, patients may also have a shorter overall hospital stay, which may lead to a faster recovery.
"The StealthStation can also make many of the routine things done in surgery, such as inserting implants, much safer, quicker, and easier," says Dr. Hrynkiw. "This technology offers so many benefits to our patients that we can't envision doing surgery any other way."