BrainLAB, a worldwide leader in image-guided surgery, and The Neurosurgery Department of West Virginia University today introduced a new innovation in neurosurgery, IGSonic, a combination of ultrasound and navigation in a single system. The integration of the IGSonic ultrasound system into the VectorVision�surgical navigation system enables neurosurgical patients at West Virginia University to receive even better treatment.

This new integration combines the advantages of two valuable neurosurgical procedures into one, rendering the use of intra-operative ultrasound feasible for neurosurgeons. Both navigation and ultrasound imaging have already been used successfully in operations on tumors or arterial malformations in the brain. Until now, neurosurgeons could only use ultrasound images with navigation by connecting an external ultrasound device. The complex logistics involved often prevented the technology from being used in cases where it would have been beneficial.

In the past, insufficient picture quality combined with a non-user friendly interface often limited the use of ultrasound in neurosurgery, preventing the advantages of the technology from coming into play.

“Ultrasound provides a 3D rendering of tumor boundaries that are not visible to the naked eye or even with a surgical microscope, and provides information about the distribution of blood vessels and the blood flow intra-operatively and in real time,”explains Dr. Warren W. Boling, FRCSC , Assistant Professor at the Neurosurgical Department of West Virginia University who played a vital part in the development of this integration and is the first user of the technology in the United States.

With BrainLAB’s new integration, ultrasound information collected during the operation is now displayed on the navigation system’s screen. This decisive live information greatly expands on the 3D anatomy and surgical orientation information offered by image-guided surgery. The ultrasound integration enables cost-effective solutions for procedures that rely on this information, such as intra-operative resection control. With the combination of high-precision imagery, the surgeon can remove tumor tissue as safely and completely as possible without damaging nearby healthy tissue. A minimally invasive incision can also be made while at the same time considerably reducing the risk of having to perform further operations, since tumor tissue that could potentially be left behind can easily become a new tumor.

“Before the development of the IGSonic system, the intraoperative use of ultrasound with neurosurgical navigation was too time-consuming. With the help of this new technology, we can routinely and efficiently use this technology because the ultrasound probe is joined directly with the VectorVision system”, explained Dr. Boling.”Since we can check the quality of our work during the operation, we are more confident that the outcomes for our patients will improve.

How does this technology work?

Since healthy tissue and tumor tissue often are indistinguishable to the naked eye, the ultrasound device is helpful in displaying tumor borders with a much higher accuracy. Brain tissue displacement (“brainshift”) can also take place during the operation. This means that the imaging taken prior to the operation does not exactly match the intra-operative situation. With the help of the ultrasound, the surgeon can update this anatomical information during surgery. To do this, he or she moves the probe over the surgical field. The sound waves produce a number of two-dimensional pictures that give the surgeon a spatial presentation of the size, shape, and structure of the analyzed soft tissue as well as underlying vessels that are important to the operation. Since no radioactive beams are used, only sound waves, the ultrasound is practically harmless.

About BrainLAB

BrainLAB, a privately held company headquartered in Munich, Germany, was founded in 1989 and specializes in the development, manufacture, and marketing of medical technology for radiosurgery / radiotherapy, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and ENT . Among the products developed by BrainLAB are software and hardware components for image-guided surgery and radiotherapy as well as integrated systems for stereotactic radiosurgery. With about 3000 software applications on almost 1400 systems installed in over 60 countries, BrainLAB is among the market leaders in image-guided medical technology. BrainLAB employs more than 580 people worldwide. The company has 15 offices across Europe, Asia, North and South America.

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