Imagine looking for a needle in a haystack and removing it -- without disturbing any of the hay. That’s what doctors do when they use StealthStation® technology to locate and remove a tumor in the brain. Surgeons use the same technology to perform delicate sinus surgery or navigate precise screw placement throughout the spine.
The StealthStation system at Houston Northwest Medical Center helps guide doctors through complicated surgeries with more safety and precision by combining an advanced computer with advanced imaging technology and infrared optics. The StealthStation system is currently being used during neurological, sinus and spinal procedures.
How It Works
Image guided surgery works much like the location and directional tracking systems used for cars and ships. The image guided surgery system camera functions similarly to a satellite that detects signals from vehicles that are equipped with special tracking devices. When the vehicle moves, the satellite calculates position, transfers the information to the vehicle computer and then shows the direction the vehicle is moving. When programmed, the system can also give specific directions about how to proceed.
Before surgery, the patient undergoes diagnostic testing such as computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These images are converted into three dimensional (3D) images showing the patient’s organs, muscles, tissues and nerves. Surgeons then use this precise 3D image as a roadmap to determine the best area to make an incision and the ideal path to the targeted site. Doctors utilize this information to focus on the exact location needed during surgery without compromising nearby tissue, nerves or blood vessels.
During surgery, the existing 3D images are synchronized with real-time information generated by cameras within the system. After matching the pre-surgery images to the patient’s real anatomy, surgeons can maneuver the view to literally see inside the patient’s body. Instruments can also be tracked during surgery, including the position of the instrument and the angle at which it is entering the body.
Image guided surgery systems are not robotic in design. The doctor still holds the instruments to perform the surgery. StealthStation technology simply provides a way for doctors to perform certain surgical procedures with greater precision.
Image guided surgery provides new alternatives for patients with multiple medical problems. Patients who may not be able to undergo large, invasive surgeries or those whose conditions in the past would have been considered inoperable may also benefit from StealthStation technology. Patients who undergo image guided surgical procedures may:
- Spend less time in the operating room.
- Have smaller incisions and less trauma to surrounding tissues.
- Experience decreased risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries.
Image Guided Surgery for . . .
Image guided surgery may be recommended for severe forms of chronic sinusitis, especially for patients who have had previous sinus surgery that has changed anatomical landmarks. This type of surgery may also benefit patients who have unusual sinus anatomy, which could make typical sinus surgery difficult. Navigational technology may be used in the following procedures:
- Revision sinus surgery
- Distorted sinus anatomy (caused by development, previous surgery or trauma)
- Extensive sino-nasal polyposis
- Benign or malignant sino-nasal tumors or lesions
Operations performed using StealthStation technology include the following:
- Spinal trauma or tumors – 3D imaging helps doctors navigate through bone while staying clear of the spinal cord or nerve roots.
- Spinal deformity – Spinal implants to correct scoliosis or other spinal deformities can be implanted with greater precision.
- Spinal degeneration – Navigational technology is used in both open and percutaneous (through the skin) procedures.
Imaging and other advanced technologies make neurosurgery less invasive and previously inoperable conditions may now be surgically treated. Procedures using image guide technology include the following:
- Tumor biopsy -- Navigational technology allows surgeons to optimize cranial access while tracking the insertion depth of the needle in real time.
- Tumor resection – Surgeons can remove the maximum amount of tumor while minimizing potential impact to critical brain structures.
- Cerebrospinal fluid management – Image guided systems help with optimal placement of shunts to relieve fluid accumulation in the brain.
StealthStation is a registered trademark of Medtronic, Inc.