New intraoperative MRI lets TGH-USF Health neurosurgeons see brain as surgery performed

Tampa General is the first hospital in the Tampa Bay area to acquire the advanced imaging technology

Neurosurgeons at Tampa General Hospital, including doctors from USF Health, will now be able to use the first intraoperative MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in the Tampa Bay area.

MRI is a powerful tool that allows neurosurgeons to see the difference between healthy and diseased brain. So powerful, that Tampa General brought the MRI right into the operating room; TGH is only one of six hospitals in Florida to acquire it.

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USF Health-TGH neurosurgeon Dr. Harry van Loveren stands next to the intraoperative MRI recently installed at Tampa General. The powerful imaging technology allows brain tumors to be removed more completely the first time, helping avoid repeat surgeries.

“We cut the ribbon on the most advanced and first-of-its-kind operating theater in the Tampa Bay region,” said USF Health-TGH neurosurgeon Harry van Loveren, MD,  interim dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and chair of the college’s Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair.

“The state-of-the art 3 Tesla MRI ‘floats’ in and out of the room on command to monitor the progress of surgery, so we can now see how a patient’s surgery is going and affect the outcome rather than see how surgery went and accept the outcome.”

A Breakthrough in Technology and Care

In most operating rooms, neurosurgeons must make their best estimation when removing brain tumors during surgery. It isn’t until an MRI is completed after surgery—sometimes days or weeks before doctors know if the entire tumor was successfully removed.

With the new advanced and powerful real-time imaging technology, neurosurgeons at TGH can remove tumors more completely the first time and avoid repeat surgeries.  The intraoperative MRI can also be used for a variety of other neurosurgical procedures and conditions.

The two-room suite functions as an operating room on one side while the other room is used to store the MRI when the equipment is not being used for surgery.  While in that storage area, it can also be used for routine diagnostic scans. The equipment, called VISIUS Surgical Theatre, has a ceiling mount that allows it to move between two rooms. The intraoperative MRI is housed in a room next door to the operating room behind thick surgical sliding doors and on command, the doors open and the MRI is powered in on a track and placed around the patient’s head on the operating room table while in surgery.

The use of this intraoperative imaging system is much safer, because the patient is never moved once positioned for surgery. The high-resolution images provide better precision in complicated neurosurgery procedures, likely resulting in fewer repeat surgeries for brain tumor patients.

TGH has also developed a method to connect, in real time, the patient and the anesthesia machine to the patient’s electronic record via a wireless connection. This continually feeds vital signs and inhaled gasses information used to keep the patient asleep into the hospitals electronic record software system.