Dr Nkusi (C) explains the workings of the 3D neuronavigation technology as Dr Ouma (R) and Morsley look on. (Moses Opobo)

Dr Nkusi (C) explains the workings of the 3D neuronavigation technology as Dr Ouma (R) and Morsley look on. (Moses Opobo)

Using neuro-navigation technology, damage to normal tissue, known to be the biggest challenge in delivering neurosurgical services will be significantly addressed.

Using the 3D navigation technology, neurosurgeons can now be able to precisely locate and localise a disease by choosing safe surgical routes.

Neuronavigation is the use of a set of computer-aided technology, utilising patient CT/MRI & C-arm radiographic images and proprietary software to create a 3D roadmap of a patient?s anatomy during surgery.

As a surgeon moves an instrument in the body, its position is precisely calculated. The data is then transferred to a computer in the operating room.

The computer then superimposes the position of the instruments as they are used in surgery onto images of the anatomy displayed on a monitor, allowing the surgeon to see the exact placement and direction the instrument is moving.

In light of this, a multi-specialty and multi-disciplinary clinical and surgical event has been running at King Faisal Hospital, Rwanda, from Tuesday, and will close on June 12.

During this period, neuro, ENT (ear, nose and throat) and orthopaedic surgeons will be offering surgical solutions to selected patients referred from around the East African region.

Speaking at a media conference to unveil the new technology at King Faisal Hospital, on Tuesday, Dr Emmy Nkusi Agabe, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, described 3D navigation as ?a surgeon?s sixth sense?.

?It gives the neurosurgeon that extra latitude in doing the job properly and with all due respect to being as accurate as possible,? he added.

?It?s a GPS system in a patient?s body that can track the exact trouble spot, for instance where there is a tumor.?

John Ouma, a visiting neurosurgeon from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, observed that while neurosurgical procedures can still be done without this machine, it is not to the same degree of accuracy and safety to the patient.

?The degree of accuracy we receive with this machine is actually at sub millimeter level. And that?s extremely important when you are working with sensitive tissues in the body,? he said, adding that the technology is an inevitable part of modern medicine.

Michael Morsley, the East Africa regional manager, Medtronics, which supplied the technology, said young neurosurgeons will be drawn from all around the region to experience this technology and what it has to offer.

Background of neurosurgery

Neurosurgery has undergone tremendous change in Rwanda, with an average of 80 cases handled each month at King Faisal Hospital, Rwanda, and Central University Teaching Hospital, Kigali.

Trauma cases are the majority, followed by tumors, age related diseases, spinal infections, and others.

It was not until 10 years ago that the first permanent neurosurgeon started to practice in the country, with basic neurosurgical tools.

With the creation of the Rwanda Neurosurgical Centre five years ago, however, there has been substantial progress in acquisition of new and modern neurosurgical equipment.

Moses Opobo, The New Times

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