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Cutting-edge technology helps pediatric doctors find, remove tumors

Aug 20, 2018

Imagine the brain as a highway, and a neurosurgeon as the bus driver.

In order to find the fastest and safest route possible through a complex web of vessels and tissue, doctors like R. Dev Bhardwaj and Lauren Schwartz are turning to the medical version of GPS.

Schwartz and Bhardwaj, who are pediatric neurosurgeons at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, work with cutting-edge medical technology when operating on young patients.

The West Palm Beach hospital on the campus of St. Mary’s Medical Center is the first in South Florida to combine robotic microscope technology with Curve Image Guided Surgery equipment, Bhardwaj said.

Manufactured by the German medical technology company Brainlab, the equipment helps doctors navigate through the brain in order to accurately detect and remove tumors, cysts and other abnormalities.

It uses dual tracking cameras and two 27-inch touch screen HD displays to guide and track surgical instruments and overlay their position on previously acquired CAT Scan or MRI data. It also features image guidance software with 3D capabilities.

“This software and all of its high-end features allows us the peace of mind that we have the precise calculations needed to isolate only the tumor or area that needs correction, while leaving healthy tissue unaffected,” said Schwartz, who also works with adult patients. “This also improves our ability to avoid permanent neurological damage or other negative effects during surgery.”

Bhardwaj likens the technology to using satellite imagery for real-time traffic updates.

“If the interstate is bad, you should take the toll highway,” he said. “That’s kind of what this allows us to do now. It allows us to see a lot better, and it allows us to achieve our operative goal in a safer manner. It allows us to operate better and see better, and ultimately heal a kid better.”

The pediatric neurosurgery program at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital opened just a few months ago, but already has drawn patients from around the country and even internationally.

“As soon as we opened, we started getting quite a few children,” Bhardwaj said. “We’ve helped a very modest handful right now, some with very significant pathologies that other places weren’t very willing to do anything with.”

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