Spectrum Health Offers New Imaging Technology

New technology recently introduced at Spectrum Health provides high-resolution guidance during surgical procedures, helping surgeons to safely and accurately remove tumors from high-risk locations, such as in the brain or on the spine.

Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging technology or iMRI:

  • Provides feedback to the surgeon during the procedure
  • Indicates critical areas near the tumor that need to be avoided during surgery
  • Helps surgeons confirm that as much of the tumor as possible has been removed

Spectrum Health is the only provider in West Michigan and one of only 40 in the country to have this technology. The iMRI, located in Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, will be available to both adult and pediatric patients beginning this month.

The iMRI enables a surgeon to promptly confirm progress during surgery using imaging available in a specially designed surgical suite. Patients are smoothly moved from the operating side of the suite into the imaging machine to be scanned and then returned immediately to surgery. Without an iMRI, the patient must be transferred from surgery to another location in the building for scanning and then return at a later time for additional surgery, if needed.

“As our technology gets better, so do outcomes for our patients,” said Todd Vitaz, MD, director, neurosurgical oncology and skull base surgery, Spectrum Health Medical Group. “The ability to remove as much of the tumor as possible during the initial surgery with minimal damage to other areas of the brain is very important. Maximum tumor removal can be curative for certain tumors and makes a difference in cases where the patient needs additional treatment.”

Careful removal of tumors is essential because, with both the brain and spine, the areas surrounding the tumors may control important functions, such as language and movement.

“With iMRI, we obtain an additional type of feedback – radiographic – which enables us to minimize some risk while maximizing tumor removal,” explains Vitaz.

Beyond tumor surgery, Spectrum Health anticipates using the iMRI for deep brain stimulation, a surgical treatment for people with severe Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders, and epilepsy surgery. This technology also opens the door for other advances and minimally invasive treatments, such as thermal coagulation of inoperable or recurrent brain tumors using lasers.

Spectrum Health’s iMRI – Discovery* MR750w – is produced by GE Healthcare.

“GE is very proud of our long-standing partnership with Spectrum Health to enhance the lives of the patients we mutually serve. The leading edge technology being announced today represents the commitment both GE and Spectrum Health share to continually afford the patients the very latest in diagnostic technology,” said David Stults, senior managing executive, GE Healthcare.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 700 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 600,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 19,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.