August is Neurosurgery Outreach Month, an effort to increase the public's knowledge about the powerful effects of neurosurgery, many of which are taking place at Saint Thomas Health Services in Tennessee.
“When battling brain cancer, a patient's success and survival depend upon coordinated care by all physicians and caregivers involved. When a patient goes through neurosurgery, communication is vital and care partners are consulted throughout the patient's treatment process - before, during and after surgery”
Most people would agree the brain is complex. Luckily neuroscience, the study of the brain, continually provides us with new insights into those complexities. These new understandings, coupled with technological advances, are spawning new modalities that are rapidly changing the practice of neurosurgery. Some of these new tools, such as 3-D modeling, computer-assisted navigation, brain mapping and knifeless radiosurgery are being wielded by Saint Thomas Health Services' neurosurgeons.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Abram, STHS Brain & Spine Tumor Program Director, along with other doctors and specialists at Saint Thomas Health Services, have long believed that offering tightly integrated care and advanced technologies are the keys to better care and outcomes for neurosurgical patients, specifically as it relates to brain and spine cancers.
"Our Neurosciences Institute is building a program we believe is unique to the area. Our program offers not only the latest in technologies but also brings together experts in different fields to create a future-looking, interdisciplinary team, including radiation oncologists, oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and other caregivers," said Dr. Abram.
This team meets weekly to review clinical symptoms, diagnostic labs, imaging studies, primary brain tumor genetics and related current research. Recommendations from this conference help tailor a treatment plan that is unique to each patient.
"When battling brain cancer, a patient's success and survival depend upon coordinated care by all physicians and caregivers involved. When a patient goes through neurosurgery, communication is vital and care partners are consulted throughout the patient's treatment process - before, during and after surgery," added Dr. Abram.
In addition to positive group communication, brain surgery also requires careful planning. Just as no two people are alike, neither are two brains. Saint Thomas uses detailed specialized images to create computer generated, 3-D models used to plan and help guide the surgical procedure. Saint Thomas is Middle Tennessee's only provider that can build and integrate maps of this detail into the surgical process. Just like the GPS in your car, a navigational guidance system for the brain is only as good as the maps it uses.
For some patients, a specialized form of radiation therapy treatment, often called "knifeless radiosurgery", has proven to be a valuable adjunct to traditional neurosurgery. Saint Thomas and the Dan Rudy Cancer Center at Saint Thomas Hospital have offered radiosurgery since 2003. Using navigational techniques, areas deep in the brain that were traditionally dangerous to reach can now be accessed through radiosurgery with great precision.
For all neurosurgical conditions, including brain cancers, tumors, arterial venous malformations (AVM's), trigeminal neuralgia and others, these advanced technologies are changing the basic practice of neurosurgery.
"Patients in Tennessee are very lucky to be able to take advantage of these advanced technologies," said Donna Nave, Neuroscience Service Line Executive for Saint Thomas Health Services. "These new neurosurgical practices exemplify our efforts to improve neurosurgical outcomes, promote faster recoveries and foster meaningful survival."
: Saint Thomas Health Services