Hospitals

Wow of the Week: A look inside minimally invasive brain surgery (with sensors, telescopes and algorithms)

It’s one thing to read about companies developing amazing medical technologies, but it’s a completely different thing to actually see them in use. Pauline Tam, a writer for Postmedia News in Canada, apparently got to sit in on a minimally invasive brain tumor removal performed by renowned surgeon Dr. Amin Kassam at The Ottawa Hospital. […]

It’s one thing to read about companies developing amazing medical technologies, but it’s a completely different thing to actually see them in use.

Pauline Tam, a writer for Postmedia News in Canada, apparently got to sit in on a minimally invasive brain tumor removal performed by renowned surgeon Dr. Amin Kassam at The Ottawa Hospital. In a piece called “Journey Inside the Mind,” she recounts the procedure in stunning detail.

During his 12-year tenure at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Kassam was instrumental in pioneering novel techniques in neurological surgery, including the Expanded Endonasal Approach. In this case, he uses a different technique called “the brain port,” which reportedly only a handful of surgeons in the world have the tools and expertise for.

Before the procedure, scanners and imaging software translate information from MRIs into coordinates that help Kassam determine the precise location of the tumor. Then, through a dime-sized hole in the skull and a portal called the BrainPath (made by NICO Corp., an Indiana company we’ve written about on a few occasions), Kassam is able to insert various tools to shave and suck up pieces of the tumor. Meanwhile, navigation software and an instrument tracker that uses sensors embedded in a mask placed on the patient’s face guide him through a carefully calculated path to the tumor – like a GPS.

Perhaps most interesting is that Tam makes note of a dozen people in the room, including software designers and engineers from various equipment makers. Truly, innovation in action.

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