Cutting Edge Technology

Developments making neurosurgery even safer for patients

Published online: Apr 17, 2022 Articles, East Idaho Health Brian Zeil
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When surgeons need to operate on someone’s brain or spine accuracy matters. Millimeters, approximately the size of a sharp pencil point, can mean the difference between a patient making a full recovery or experiencing troublesome complications. 

In order to give patients the best chance for success, Idaho Falls Community Hospital recently invested in new technology that gives surgeons a real-time look at a patient’s brain or spine while they operate. 

“The Airo Mobile Intraoperative CT allows me to provide the best care possible for my patients,” said Dr. John Dickinson, a neurosurgeon who practices at Idaho Falls Community Hospital. “Instead of relying on my naked eyes and images we’ve collected ahead of surgery, I can see detailed, real-time 3D images of a patient’s anatomy. This drastically increases precision in the operating room and improves patient safety and outcomes as a result.” 

Idaho Falls Community Hospital is the only hospital in the state to invest in this technology for its patients. Surgeons at the hospital started using Airo in November 2021. During the first three months, the portable CT scanner was used to increase safety and accuracy in more than 30 operations. 

“Verifying my work while I am still in the operating room with my patients gives them the best chance at making a full recovery. It also reduces their chances of needing a second operation down the road,” said Dr. Dickinson. “This technology is truly a gamechanger for patients.”

The Airo is particularly helpful when surgeons are performing spinal fusions. During these procedures, small screws are inserted into the spine in order to provide patients with stability and pain relief. With the spinal cord so close to where surgeons are working, there is little room for error. When surgeons have access to live, 3D images of the spin during surgery, they increase their precision and can safely guide the screws into the exact position. 

“Idaho Falls Community Hospital is committed to providing our patients with safe, compassionate care,” said Jeremy Killpack, surgical services manager for the hospital. “We work with some of the best surgeons in Idaho. While they have performed thousands of surgeries and helped thousands of patients without this technology, we still felt it was an important investment to make in order to care for our community. We want to make sure we are giving our doctors all the tools they need to provide top of the line treatment.”  

The imaging capabilities of Airo are also helping surgeons identify and stop brain hemorrhages safer and more effectively. Likewise, it has been helpful in making sure brain tumors are fully removed. In the past, many of these patients would have needed a CT scan following surgery to check the operation’s success. If the scan showed continued bleeding or a remaining tumor, patients would be wheeled back into surgery. At Idaho Falls Community Hospital, with Airo, that is no longer the case. Surgeons have all of the information they need to successfully treat their patients in the operating room.  


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