Advanced imaging technology at Ingalls

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Precise work: Dr. George Miz, a board-certified spine surgeon at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, says the O-arm Imaging System, a three-dimensional navigational imaging system, allows surgeons to view clear, real-time images of the body during surgery. | Photos by Mary Compton

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Maintaining a position of leadership in the health-care arena takes continual investments in state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment technology. This fall, Ingalls Health System will roll out investments of more than $7 million in the most advanced cancer, spine and imaging technology in 2012.

The new equipment allows for more precise diagnosis and treatment in a wide range of patients, especially those undergoing spinal surgery or radiation therapy treatment for cancer.

O-arm imaging during spine surgery

Ingalls is pleased to be one of the first hospitals in the Chicago area to offer the sophisticated O-arm Imaging System for more precise spinal surgery. The new three-dimensional, navigational imaging system gives surgeons a way to navigate a patient’s spine — much like a car’s GPS.

“During back or spine surgery, precision is everything,” explained board-certified spine surgeon George Miz, M.D. “O-arm technology allows the surgeon to view clear, real-time images of the body during surgery.”

Before actual surgery, the O-arm system obtains imaging data, allowing a live, 3-D view to be used during surgery. Then, surgeons make a minimally invasive, localized incision and place the spinal hardware in the most ideal position.

“It allows the surgeon to make fewer and smaller incisions, precisely navigate delicate areas like the spinal cord, confidently place spinal instrumentation and align the spine, and minimize pain and recovery time,” he added.

The O-arm works by forming a ring around the patient’s body. The ring then rotates to take 2-D fluoroscopy (real-time moving X-rays), creating 3-D images around the body. The O-arm also has a navigational component, like a GPS, that allows the surgeon to track instruments in relation to the patient’s anatomy, monitor the anatomy itself and quantify soft tissue balancing.

“This type of navigation is vital when working in areas such as the brain and spinal cord where accurate instrument placement is critical,” Dr. Miz said.

Patient benefits include smaller and fewer incisions, preservation of healthy tissue, and minimal complications, pain, recovery time and the need for repeat procedures.

TrueBeam radiation therapy

The new TrueBeam radiation therapy system to be installed at Ingalls this fall will allow radiation oncologists to aim a more precise, higher-dose beam of radiation that is shaped to a cancerous tumor and timed to a patient’s breathing during treatment.

In addition, the new linear accelerator will deliver radiation treatments in a fraction of the time of traditional radiation therapy while protecting surrounding healthy tissue.

“The higher resolution beam-shaping system allows a higher dose rate for faster treatment,” explained Shankar Sanwalani, M.D., board-certified radiation oncologist.

Ideal for treatment of head and neck, liver, prostate and breast cancers, the TrueBeam system from Varian Medical Systems, Inc., offers particular advantages in attacking tumors of the chest.

“As patients breathe, the lungs continue to move,” he added. “The TrueBeam has a control for breathing so it only delivers radiation in the part of the cycle when the patient exhales and it senses that the lungs and tumor have returned to the right position.”

What’s more, the enhanced precision gives physicians added confidence when they’re working adjacent to critical structures such as the spinal cord or base of the skull, and the fast delivery rate is particularly good for patients requiring high-dose treatments.

“A procedure that once took an hour can be done in a fraction of the time,” Dr. Sanwalani said. “Patients are more comfortable, less tired, and it’s easier to maintain the right position to get the dose where it’s needed.”

Patients who previously required multiple radiation sessions may have their treatment completed in only one or two. This is of particular benefit to patients who also need chemotherapy.

“By completing radiation faster, some patients can save precious time and be able to get started on other cancer therapies earlier to enhance their potential for recovery,” Dr. Sanwalani said.

3T MRI

The new 3T MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) coming to Ingalls Family Care Center in Flossmoor this fall is the most powerful imaging tool used in patient care today. Featuring a stronger magnet than ever before, the new MRI dramatically shortens scan times while increasing image quality.

The “T” in 3T MRI stands for Tesla, which is a unit of measurement for magnet strength.

“The new 3T MRI at Ingalls is two- to five-times stronger than a standard MRI,” explained Perry Gilbert, medical director of radiology services at Ingalls. “That means we can take better, clearer pictures of the smallest parts of the body. The new scanner at Ingalls is faster and more powerful than ever before.”

Clinicians have long relied on MRI for its exceptional ability to differentiate various soft tissues, and the 3T MRI at Ingalls is particularly useful for diagnosing spinal injuries; sports injuries, such as tears and strains; neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and brain tumors; other types of cancer, including breast and liver; heart disease; conditions involving the bile duct, pancreas ducts and gallbladder; and inflammatory bowel disease.

In addition, the 3T MRI has several features that improve patient comfort like reduced noise levels, an open design, and a low-to-floor position, making it especially accessible for frail and elderly patients.

The 3T MRI’s large bore, or wide opening, can accommodate patients with very large frames, and additional space and breathing room for the 30 percent of MRI patients who are highly claustrophobic.

Maintaining a sophisticated technology arsenal able to meet the high expectations of the area’s finest physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients is a responsibility that the board of directors and executives at Ingalls take seriously. For more information, visit Ingalls’ website at www.Ingalls.org.

Provided by Ingalls Health System