With the recent implementation of sophisticated laser, robotic and virtual reality equipment, doctors can improve the ways they diagnose and treat patients, and offer services previously unavailable at the hospital.
Brain Tumors and Lesions
GW Hospital is using a form of thermal laser therapy to treat patients diagnosed with brain lesions and brain tumors. The precision laser is guided by an MRI and uses high heat to dissolve the lesion or tumor. “It is especially helpful for tumors deep within the brain,” says Jonathan Sherman, MD, Director of Surgical Neuro-Oncology, Assistant Professor and Neurosurgeon. “Using this form of treatment only targets the affected area, and not the healthy tissue surrounding it.” The laser can be used in almost every location of the brain and is considered minimally invasive.
Brain Surgery Meets Virtual Reality
The term “virtual reality” may conjure up thoughts of video games for some people, but at GW Hospital, it is being used to help neurosurgeons plan brain surgery. They can view different surgical techniques to determine the best procedure that will help achieve the best outcome for the patient. The virtual system works based on MRI or CT scan images of the patient’s brain that are loaded into the program to create a three-dimensional reconstruction. Dr. Sherman says by wearing a special headset, he can view the brain as if he were inside it. “It enables us to “fly through” and see all the intricate details and work through the surgery on the screen before we actually operate,” he says. “This helps us confirm the course of action and also provides a map for surgeries involving brain tumors, aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations.”
The virtual reality system is also a valuable tool for the patient. “When we review the images with the patient, they can see everything we’re going to do. Knowing how the process is going to play out can be reassuring and help put them at ease,” says Dr. Sherman.
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A Flexible Robot for Hard-to-Reach Areas
GW Hospital is one of only six hospitals in the nation to have acquired it, and the first hospital in the region to use the flexible robot. Arjun Joshi, MD, an Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Otolaryngology, specializes in cancers of the mouth and surgery of the head and neck.
“This equipment enables us to better maneuver in the mouth and throat areas,” says Dr. Joshi. “The flexible scope gives us a high- definition view, and access to areas a straight-armed robot or regular instruments can’t, such as the base of the tongue, the back of the throat and the vocal cords.” He recently used the equipment to treat cases of cancer of the tonsils and cancer of the pharynx. Dr. Joshi says surgery using the flexible robot is minimally invasive, and the patient can benefit from a shorter hospital stay, less recovery time and minimal blood loss.
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*Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.
Patient-Friendly Portable Digital X-ray Systems
Portable X-ray machines have long replaced the days of wheeling a patient through the halls to get an X-ray. But the new machines at GW Hospital go one step further. Division Director of Radiological Operations, Mark S. Lerner, R.T., says the units are direct digital systems, which means that the image is visible right after it is taken. “Since the machines are sometimes brought right to the patient’s room, it saves time, especially for trauma and surgical cases,” says Mark.
The image is automatically loaded into the hospital’s electronic record system, so physicians can view the image anywhere at any time. With this new equipment, radiation exposure is reduced by 30 to 40 percent. Also, the quality of the image is improved, providing a clearer picture and ultimately allowing for a better diagnosis. “We are always looking at ways in which we can improve the patient experience, and this is a step in the right direction,” says Mark.
Learn more about GW imaging services >