Halifax surgeons first in Canada to use Brainlab Elements
September 28, 2022
HALIFAX – Neurosurgeons at Nova Scotia Health’s Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (QEII), the hub of neurosurgical procedures in the province, now have access to a new digital neurosurgical planning and navigation software that will transform how they plan and deliver care. The Brainlab Elements software offers more precise, higher quality images and data in one convenient location. It also helps to visualize crucial structures in the depth of the brain that aren’t visible through an MRI.
Through the seamless integration of various types of patient imaging, the software intelligently uses a synthetic tissue model to create a ‘digital twin’ of the patient, enhancing how doctors virtually plan complex neurosurgical procedures and patient treatment strategies.
“This new digital planning software has streamlined surgical planning tasks through improved automation, reducing surgery preparation time from hours to minutes,” says Dr. Lutz Weise (pictured), neurosurgeon at the QEII and associate professor, Dalhousie University.
The neurosurgery team in Halifax is the first site in Canada to adopt the Brainlab Elements software, successfully using it for surgery on June 24, 2022, and six subsequent surgical procedures.
“We are proud to be the first province in Canada to embrace this innovative technology as part of our digital strategy to enhance how we deliver the care to Nova Scotians. The neurosurgical planning and navigation software provides physicians with the technology they need to provide the best care to patients,” says Karen Oldfield, president and CEO, Nova Scotia Health.
“This is just one of many medical firsts for our province, which includes the first robotic spinal surgery in Canada this past summer,” says Michelle Thompson, minister of health and wellness. “Nova Scotia Health and healthcare teams across our province have demonstrated time and again that we are leaders in healthcare innovation. By embracing innovation in healthcare, we are giving patients better care and better outcomes.”
The new software is primarily being used to support doctors in planning and navigating deep brain stimulation procedures to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, tremors and Dystonia (a neurological condition that causes muscles to contract involuntarily and out of proper sequence).
During these procedures, electrodes are placed deep into the brain. The electrodes act like a pacemaker to stimulate structures in the brain that are part of networks that control movement.
Deep brain stimulation surgeries have been taking place in Halifax for over 20 years and account for approximately 30 surgeries each year. In the past, doctors would have relied on a variety of tools, technology and techniques to inform and plan for these surgeries.
For Dr. Weise and his colleagues, the digital neurosurgical planning and navigation software is a welcome advancement that not only accelerates planning but also has the potential to achieve efficiencies in the operating room. With access to more accurate images and enhanced data, surgeons can better anticipate what they may encounter during a procedure and plan accordingly, potentially avoiding delays.
“Before (this new software) we relied on brain coordinates based on atlases from the last century, direct visualization of patient MRIs and other computer programs to plan neurosurgical procedures. Now the identification of the actual target in the brain is completed automatically with a click of a button,” says Weise. “This software provides a more accurate picture of where we need to place the electrodes and automatically tells us the direction to steer the stimulation current. Increased accuracy can improve surgical outcomes and a patient’s quality of life.”
“As the first hospital in Canada to utilize Brainlab Elements planning for deep brain stimulation, the QEII Health Sciences Centre is at the forefront of treating movement disorder patients with advanced technology,” said Sean Clark, president, Brainlab, Inc. “Brainlab strives to make innovative medical technology more impactful and accessible to physicians, and we are proud to collaborate with Dr. Weise and the QEII to bring the benefits of the latest technology to more patients.”
The availability of the digital neurosurgical planning and navigation software also provides an opportunity to enhance collaboration as all authorized circle of care team members can now securely access the software from anywhere in the hospital. Residents and Fellows can also create a surgical plan and a senior physician can review and approve the strategy.
Better data, more precise images, enhanced surgical navigation and improved care team collaboration are just some of the benefits of the new virtual neurosurgical planning software. “The key benefit of this innovative solution is the potential for improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. Weise.
There is also potential to expand the use of the virtual neurosurgical planning software in the future for other procedures such as biopsies and brachytherapy, a form of radiation therapy used to treat various cancers.
Source: Lauren MacDougall, Nova Scotia Health