ST. LOUIS – Barnes-Jewish Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the country to offer patients the opportunity to have brain surgery using technology that provided real-time results, reducing the need for follow-up surgery. Six years later, its neurosurgery team has reached a milestone by performing more than 1,000 cases using its moveable intraoperative MRI (iMRI) system – more than any other center in the United States.
The iMRI provides an enhanced visualization of seizure-producing versus healthy brain tissue during surgeries to treat conditions such as epilepsy clearer, and a more detailed view of tumors and tumor margins during removal. It also allows surgeons access to MRI scans in real time, without moving the patient or stopping surgery.
Cynthia Holder, a 56-year-old from Nevada, Missouri, was the 1000th patient. An avid reader, Holder noticed slight double vision and blurriness about six months ago. She knew she had a tumor on her pituitary gland, but thought her eyesight issue meant she was getting older and needed to update her prescription. Her optometrist in Nevada ordered an MRI to see if tissue was putting pressure on her optical nerves. The MRI showed her tumor had grown and she was referred to Keith Rich, MD, a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, by a neurologist in Joplin, Missouri.
“When I met my surgeon, he said I had three options: do nothing, go through radiation or have surgery,” said Holder. “I decided to go ahead with the surgery because I trusted the recommendation of my neurosurgeon.”
Dr. Rich, along with John Schneider, MD, a Washington University otolaryngologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, performed a transsphenoidal tumor resection to remove the tumor through her nose and used the iMRI technology.
“Because of the location of most brain tumors, we want to make absolutely sure that we remove as much of the tumor as we can,” said Dr. Rich, who performed the 1,000th operation on Holder. “Before this technology, we would remove everything we could see. Then, when the patient had a follow-up MRI, we would see something on the scan that might mean another surgery for that patient.”
The day after her surgery, Holder asked for a book.
“I was so shocked to be able to read normally again,” she said. “My eyesight is better than it has been in years, and I don’t need reading glasses at all now.”
“The need for fewer surgeries leads to better long-term survival rates, decreased need for additional treatments such as radiation, and increased quality of life for our patients,” said Michael Chicoine, MD, a Washington University neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “We are continually striving to provide our patients the best options for treatments, and are actively studying outcomes for our patients so we can use this information to shape the future of neurosurgery.”
The VISIUS® iMRI is a product of IMRIS Inc.