There is a surgical procedure to help patients who are suffering from Parkinson’s and related diseases. This operation is called Deep Brain Stimulation or DBS. It is a lifesaving operation where patients were completely awake during the procedure. Researchers are even looking into treating depression, epilepsy, and dementia with DBS.
The operation consists of imaging, identifying the target, and implanting the electrode. Since the patient is awake, their head is immobilized and secured to the operating table. Patients have stated that the frames used to stabilize their head were the most uncomfortable part of the operation and they have discomfort with the rest of the surgery.
To fix the patients being uncomfortable from the head frames, a new invention was created. The frameless stereotactic platform is anchored to the skull instead of the table. This equipment gives patients comfort while their brain is being operated on while still maintaining a level of accuracy for surgeons. Preparation in the operation room is cut down which reduces the stress on patients and the cost of hospital bills. The frameless stereotactic platform allows patients to sit up, task, walk, and write while wearing this head piece. The movements that a patient makes will actually help the doctor find the location in the brain that needs to have the electrodes implanted.
The Creation of the Frameless Stereotactic Platform
Dr. Joel Franck created the technology of the frameless stereotactic platform. He had worked with cranial mound technologies on some animals and considered trying something on humans. He took his design to a medical design and manufacturing expert to get his invention up and running.
When the equipment was being made, the group of experts determined if they set up 3 or 4 anchor points on the skull they could take the CT scan and MRI and make a custom stereotactic platform. This platform would attach to the anchors to line up a Microdrive. The Microdrive would guide or implant the electrodes to the location in the brain. Each custom-formed platform would combine the anatomical information of the patient to the trajectory plan of the surgeon. The equipment was created to be able to be used inside a CT scan or MRI machine to prepare for the surgery ahead of time.
A neurosurgeon will have more accuracy with the frameless stereotactic platform during brain surgery. This improves the functionality of surgery on the brain and it will save several lives in the future. Patient-specific medical devices are currently being used in neurosurgery, but we may see this technology stretch towards other types of surgeries in the future.