Dr. Robert Louis, a neurosurgeon at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Orange County, CA, is pitched some type of new technology, gadget or medication every day. He’s shown things so often that he developed an internal filter that automatically sets expectations a lot lower than the enthusiasm of the rep. But that all changed in October 2015.
That’s when Surgical Theater reps dropped by to showcase the Surgical Navigation Advanced Platform, or SNAP. Designed by former Israeli fighter pilots, the technology uses virtual reality to allow neurosurgeons to “fly” through a patient’s brain to get a better look at tumors, nerves, blood vessels and tissue prior to surgery. Before surgery, the patient’s brain is captured and recreated as a 3D model for Dr. Louis or his colleague Dr. Christopher Duma, neurosurgeon and director of Hoag’s Brain Tumor Program, to navigate.
Hoag is currently using an Oculus DK2, but the FDA recently cleared the consumer Oculus Rift for use and that will be deployed moving forward in all medical facilities, according to Jim Breidenstein, president and COO at Surgical Theater’s SNAP division.
Louis said prior to the introduction of this technology, he’d have to reference black-and-white 2D “slices” of the brain and then use his imagination (and 20 years of surgical experience) to map out the surgical procedure in his head before entering the Operating Room.
Since SNAP is registered with both Stealth, a technology Hoag uses, and Brainlab, that 3D model of the patient’s brain is used to track the tips of the instruments as the neurosurgeon navigates the brain. It works like a GPS inside the head, allowing doctors to track their instrument in real-time.
“Instead of looking at a 2D model, I can now see the tips of the instruments on the 3D Surgical Theater System on screen and compare that to what I’m seeing through the lens of the microscope,” said Louis, who is also director of Hoag’s Skull Base and Pituitary Tumor Program.