When the neurosurgeon Dr. As SIU Medicine’s Breck Jones performed a brain biopsy on a local patient this month at Springfield Memorial Hospital, he enlisted a new assistant to guide him to the location of a suspected tumor — a robot.

Medtronic’s Stealth Autoguide Cranial Robotic Guidance Platform enables surgeons to increase precision when performing brain procedures with real-time visualization and remote guidance. For the patient, it reduces recovery time and the risk of infection.

Springfield Memorial officials say the June 8 procedure was the first stereotactic biopsy performed in central Illinois with the Stealth Autoguide after the hospital recently acquired the robotic platform.

“It takes a lot of guesswork out,” Jones said. “As a surgeon, this kind of technology makes me feel more confident in what I’m doing.”

Biopsies are done to determine if a brain lesion is cancer. The surgeon removes a biopsy for analysis by a pathologist. Before the development of navigation technology, surgeons performing brain biopsies calculated the suspected location of a tumor by hand using anatomical landmarks and a large cranium—a delicate process that risked damaging important parts of the brain.

Today, most brain scans are performed using stereotactic guidance, which makes it much easier to locate the tumor, but this technique may still require a 2- to 3-inch incision. Cancer treatment, if needed, must be delayed until the incision heals.

One of the biggest advantages of the Stealth Autoguide system, Jones said, is a shorter recovery time for the patient — and the opportunity to start treatment sooner if the lesion is cancerous. Instead of a larger incision, the biopsy needle is inserted into a small hole that he likened to “stabbing with a scalpel.”

“When it comes to malignant, aggressive tumors, waiting two to three weeks for the suture to heal could very well be two to three weeks off their life. [the patient] may not come back,” he said, noting that patients typically only need an overnight hospital stay after undergoing a robotic biopsy.

While this was Jones’ first surgery using the robotic equipment at Springfield Memorial, he has extensive experience with this equipment thanks to a neurosurgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. A native of southern Illinois, he graduated from the SIU School of Medicine in 2015 and was the second physician to complete SIU’s neurosurgery residency program. After returning to SIU in July as an assistant professor in the neurosurgery department, he began discussing the possibility of bringing a Stealth Autoguide robot to Springfield Memorial. The robotics platform is integrated with the navigation software already used for brain surgery at the hospital.

“This is a great example of how the collaboration between the Department of Medicine and Memorial Health benefits our patients,” said Springfield Memorial Hospital President and CEO Chuck Callahan. “The expertise that Dr. What Jones gained during his time at the Mayo Clinic is now helping people in our area. Our surgical team is excited about the opportunity to bring this technology to central Illinois.

While robot-assisted surgery isn’t new, the Stealth Autoguide system is much smaller — “about the size of a breadbox,” Jones said — and more easily maneuverable than traditional robotic surgery equipment. It is also versatile, with many applications for brain surgery beyond biopsy. Jones and the team at Springfield Memorial expect to use it in multiple procedures from the first biopsy.

“It allows us to do a lot more things a lot more safely,” Jones said.

#neurosurgeon #performs #robotic #brain #surgery #Springfield #Memorial #Hospital