Merged Technology Guides Surgeons at Spectrum Health

Neurosurgeons at Spectrum Health are using new technology that brings together functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with stereotactic image guidance studies, providing surgeons with precise information for surgery. Using these images during surgery helps guide physicians and avoids impact on vital language, motor and cognitive centers in the brain.

Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital are the first hospitals in West Michigan to utilize this technology in this manner to improve patient safety.

‘”We now have the ability to visualize brain function with non-invasive imaging, whereas previously we had to settle for theoretical location of function,” said Chris A. Sloffer, MD, Great Lakes Neurosurgical Associates.’ “We are able to link this information to our stereotactic image guidance equipment to allow us to plan our surgeries more safely and carefully.’ We also are able to judge our proximity to critical structures more accurately during the surgery itself.’ This is very important for complex neurosurgical procedures and makes our delivery of care more mature.”

Sloffer and other neurosurgeons at Spectrum Health have been using this technology for preoperative planning and safer resection of benign and malignant brain tumors.’ Sloffer said that it also may have application in planning for epilepsy surgery.

‘”MRI technology has gone from purely showing us what the brain looks like to telling us how it functions,” said Brad Betz, MD, division chief, radiology, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “The organization of the brain is very complex. Functional MRI identifies various pathways in the brain and provides surgeons with a roadmap when removing a tumor.”

Functional MRI is primarily used by radiologists and neurosurgeons to chart a course for removing a tumor. Betz notes it also offers exciting potential for understanding how the brain develops in children.

“This technology gives us a better understanding of how the brain matures and sheds light on a child’s progress,” added Betz. “The sooner we know a child has a developmental issue, the sooner we can provide therapy and impact their outcome.”

‘Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic procedure that creates pictures or images of the body’s internal structures by using a computer, a large magnet and radiofrequencies. MRIs are produced without the use of radiation. The images are read and interpreted by a radiologist, a physician who has special training in MRI and other types of imaging.

Spectrum Health was the first health system in West Michigan to offer the 3.0 Tesla (3T) MRI scanner, the most powerful magnet strength available for routine clinical procedures. The advanced capability of 3T MRI improves the accuracy of fMRI procedures.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of seven hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, a multispecialty team of nearly 100 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.’ The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years.