DOVER — New 7-D technology is making brain and spinal surgeries easier and faster at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus.
Bayhealth is the first hospital on the Delmarva Peninsula to utilize the 7D FLASH Navigation System, which uses machine-vision image-guided technology to aid neurosurgeons by taking real-time photographs to combine with the patient’s CT scan or MRI.
Dr. Dawn Tartaglione, Bayhealth’s medical director of neurosurgery, said the machine essentially serves as a GPS for surgeons. It allows for smaller incisions, which leads to less recovery time for the patient and a shorter stay in the hospital post-surgery.
Since it uses photographs instead of X-rays, it also cuts down on radiation exposure for not only the patient but for those in the operating room.
“This technology is amazing,” Dr. Tartaglione said. “It’s really the best thing for the patients that I’ve ever seen.”
The 7-D technology first became available in 2018. The closest hospital in the region with such a navigation system was in Washington, D.C., until Bayhealth started using it in early August.
There are only 40 such systems in the country and 70 worldwide.
Bayhealth neurosurgeon Dr. Amit Goyal said it has helped speed up spinal surgeries in which the patient needs “hardware” or the insertion of screws into the spine. It now takes about a minute to place screws, Dr. Goyal said, thanks to the camera.
“When the patient is in the (operating room), the patient is facedown, so there is very limited exposure to what we can see,” Dr. Goyal said. “We want to be able to make sure we’re operating in a safe way — our instruments are going where they should, and the screws are going where they should. ... I can essentially use this to guide my screw placement, and I can do that at every single level. That wouldn’t be possible without this camera.”
Bayhealth hosted a demonstration of the surgical technique Wednesday, doing mock procedures on plastic models of a skull and a spine.
Dr. Tartaglione used the example of a deep brain lesion. Since the cameras can provide photos from multiple angles in seconds, she was able to track her instrument in real time against the map of the patient’s brain on the screen, which she said helps her make as small an incision as possible.
Dr. Goyal demonstrated placing a screw in a patient’s spine. The cameras gave him immediate identification points in the patient’s vertebrae. The mock screw showed up on the screen, which would allow the surgeon to see how deep it is going, exactly what spot it is going into and how straight it is.
This 7-D technology is also used in the neurosurgery department for operations related to brain cancers, unidentified brain objects, bone tumors, spine cancers, arthritis in the spine, herniated discs and spinal stenosis.
Dr. Tartaglione said she recently performed brain surgeries on two women in their 80s with the help of the FLASH system. She said if it wasn’t for the new engineering, the procedures would have been risky, but she was able to make the exact incisions she needed with the camera’s guidance.
Both patients had short recovery times, leaving the hospital two days after the operations.
“It’s not about having the latest, greatest toy,” Dr. Tartaglione said. “It’s about what we can do to help Delawareans have the safest possible outcome from surgery.”