Advanced surgery suite allows for MRI scans during operations

The room where the surgery takes place has a large door that opens into the suite for magnetic resonance imaging.

The room where the surgery takes place has a large door that opens into the suite for magnetic resonance imaging. Photo by Bob Mescavage.

Ordinarily after Satish Krishnamurthy, MD, removes a brain tumor in a patient, he finds the family in the waiting room. “I think we took out most, if not all, of the tumor,” he tells them, “but we will get a scan to make sure we took it all out.” Sometimes after the scan, the neurosurgeon has to arrange a second operation to remove any tumor that was left behind.

Now Krishnamurthy’s conversation has changed, thanks to the new intraoperative suite with MRI scanner in the Upstate Cancer Center. After he removed a brain tumor recently, he told his patient’s family, “I KNOW we took all the tumor out”.

“We had the ability to get an MRI scan before we closed the incision to figure out whether the tumor was, indeed, totally removed,” Krishnamurthy explains.

He performed the first surgery in October in the intraoperative suite, an expansive operating room which includes a powerful new magnetic resonance imaging scanner. The 3 tesla machine provides increased clarity and anatomic detail, making it an ideal choice for surgeries of the brain and spine. The suite is located in the Upstate Cancer Center, which is attached to Upstate University Hospital but can also be used for patients who have noncancerous tumors.

Obtaining an MRI scan during brain surgery involves additional steps that are complicated. “We had to safely move our patient — while under anesthesia, with his head fixed to a clamp and all of the attached lines – more than 20 feet from the operating room to the scanner and back 20 minutes later. We had to make sure that everything on the patient was non-magnetic (due to the scanner’s magnetic field.) Afterward, we had to re-drape the patient and complete the surgery.

“The entire process, and in fact the entire surgery from beginning to end, was entirely flawless,” Krishnamurthy says. “This was not a coincidence but a result of months of preparation for the day that we brought our first patient in.”

As impressive as the operating room and state-of-the-art equipment are, Krishnamurthy says success relies on the expertise of the entire team which includes the operating room staff, anesthesia team and MRI technicians.

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