Innovative tech creates ‘one-stop-shop’ in new neuroscience wing

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette The recently opened Neuroscience Center at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center offers top-notch equipment including one of the latest Zeiss microscopes, demonstrated in the top photo by Erin Plocinski, a physician liaison; scanner and navigation technology as shown by Brendan Butcher, integration specialist, in the center photo; and an interactive screen that pairs with the microscope and other technology as shown by Dr. James Fick, neurosurgeon, in the bottom photo.

The Neuroscience Center officially opened up at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center just before Christmas, giving folks a “patient centric,” “one-stop-shop” for their neurological needs, said Sean Henry, director of neuroscience services.

“We made sure the space matched what we’re trying to show the public we’re doing here,” he said.

The layout of the center joins neurologists and neurosurgeons together in one location on the third floor of the Health Innovation Center at 740 High St., he said.

“By offering neurology and neurosurgery together, in one location, we can provide a seamless experience for patients,” said Tom Hoy, executive director of neuroscience and physical medicine and rehabilitation. “The offices are modern and patient-friendly with convenient parking, centralized waiting areas and easy access for patients to the pharmacy, laboratory services and imaging.”

The new center opens up into a centralized check-in area that “serves as air traffic control,” Henry said, and there are two waiting rooms. One is pretty standard, while the other is closed off from the hustle and bustle and darkened for patients who may be dealing with pain related to their visit. In addition to the waiting rooms and offices, there are 18 rooms for examinations, consultations and other purposes, complete with new computers.

The center also boasts a cozy but modern private room where neurologists can speak with patients about what’s going on in their brains and how to navigate surgical options using high-definition images provided by an innovative monitor built for image-guided surgery.

“Airo Mobile Intraoperative CT and Curve Image Guided Surgery by BrainLab are imaging techniques in which, through advanced software, a 3D image displays treatment planning capabilities and helps neurosurgeons to safely and precisely perform brain surgery and improve outcomes,” said Dr. James Fick, neurosurgeon. “This highly

advanced technology provides surgeons with visual tools that will aid them in planning and discussing

highly individualized and complex treatments to their patients.”

The imaging technology pairs with a top-of-the-line Zeiss microscope, which can magnify images to view the most minute details even in deep crevices to provide “real-time localization that allows absolute precision,” Fick said.

“By good fortune, we were the first hospital in the country to acquire this (microscope),” he said, adding that it arrived one evening in September and was used in surgery the very next morning.

The microscope’s technology paired with the smart screen allows surgeons and neurologists to identify parts of the brain exactly. Its 3D reconstructions allow users to tailor what incisions might be made during surgery, then projects the trajectory of a probe to “localize and customize an operation.

Brendan Butcher, an integration specialist in the operating room, said his job is to marry the offices with the surgical suite. The scanner and navigation technology he works with allows for surgery to immediately follow spinal or cranial mapping scans, and can give live updates on what’s happening beneath the skin.

“It makes it a lot easier for patients to see exactly what’s going on and how their doctors are going to navigate,” Butcher said.

Combined with the CT scan and navigation machinery in the operating room, these top-tier technologies make UPMC surgeons’ jobs easier and give patients more assurance.

“What these technologies bring is the ability to craft a unique operation for every patient. It allows us to evaluate a variety of attacks,” Fick said. “There is little room for error in removing abnormal tissue.”

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