McAllen Medical Center Equips Neurosurgeons with Advanced Navigation and Imaging System

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MCALLEN – McAllen Medical Center, a designated advanced Level III Trauma Center for Hidalgo County, is the first hospital in the Rio Grande Valley to equip neurosurgeons with the latest intra-operative surgical navigation and imaging system – the Medtronic StealthStation 7 and O-Arm 1000. 

These models of the StealthStation and O-Arm devices work in tandem to help neurosurgeons maintain constant and seamless visualization of the spine during surgery through combining multiple modes of imaging data into virtual maps that help guide the neurosurgeons’ skilled hands.

Using these 3-D, multi-plane and fluoroscopic images, McAllen Medical Center’s neurosurgeons can view a patient’s anatomy right from the operating table, visualize the surgery in real time, and verify surgical changes prior to the patient leaving the surgical suite. As a result, patients undergoing elective or emergent spinal procedures may experience less invasive surgeries, faster recovery times, and improved outcomes.

As a trauma center, the ability to be able to move patients more quickly into the operating room is a great benefit. In some instances, patients do not have to get imaging done in the radiology department prior to surgery thanks to the O-arm and StealthStation, which can produce high-quality 3-D images from the operating room. This saves time.

“Time is critical in the operating room, especially in instances of trauma,” said Jaime Gasco, MD, a neurosurgeon with Valley Care Clinics. “Neurosurgeons can plan their approach and precisely track the location of surgical instruments when a difference of millimeters is monumental. Additionally, everyone’s anatomy is different and sometimes what we think we will encounter is not what we actually encounter when we go in to fix the problem. Having the most sophisticated inter-operative navigation and imaging equipment doesn’t necessarily make the surgeons’ jobs easier, but it helps us to do it better.”

“I think of neurosurgery like a pilot flying a plane,” Dr. Gasco said. “There is a flight path, a departure and arrival time, and a detailed outline of how it’s all supposed to play out. But weather, mechanics and chance can all impact that carefully laid out plan, and the pilot has to navigate through it all while getting to the end destination safely. This is the case in trauma or during elective surgeries. You may as well have the best plane when you have to shift gears.”

Dr. Gasco was the first physician to use the system within days of its arrival at McAllen Medical Center. The first case in which he used the O-arm and StealthStation was an elective spinal fusion case, a relatively common procedure to alleviate lower back pain.

Dr. Syed Hussain and Dr. Alejandro Betancourt, neurosurgeons on the medical staff, also regularly use the new system and believe it is a great addition to the already robust and comprehensive trauma and neurosurgery programs at McAllen Medical Center.

“The StealthStation and O-Arm system has tremendous implications for patient care here at McAllen Medical Center,” said Dr. Hussain, who has many years of experience using similar systems. “With the most advanced technology, our patients may experience fewer complications and can return to productivity faster.”

“The O-arm offers multidimensional images in about 30 seconds, and provides surgeons with real time 2-D and 3-D imaging not offered by other available technologies,” said Dr. Betancourt. “Just because we are using this system, though, expertise still matters. The neurosurgeon chooses the approach, the tools, the positioning of the tools and is in complete control. We have a better map now.” 

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