Robot Assists Neurosurgeon in Brain Surgery

brain surgery, robotics, robot, neurosurgery

When neurosurgeon Dr. Breck Jones of SIU Medicine performed a brain biopsy on a local patient earlier this month at Springfield Memorial Hospital, he had a new assistant helping guide him to the location of the suspected tumor – a robot.

The Stealth Autoguide Cranial Robotic Guidance Platform, manufactured by Medtronic, allows surgeons increased accuracy when performing procedures in the brain with real-time visualization and remote guidance. For the patient, it reduces recovery time and the risk of infection.

“It takes away a lot of the guesswork,” Dr. Jones said. “As a surgeon, having technology like this makes me more confident in what I’m doing.”

Biopsies are performed to determine whether a lesion in the brain is cancerous. The surgeon removes a sample of tissue for analysis by a pathologist. One of the biggest benefits is reduced recovery time for the patient – and the opportunity to start treatment earlier if the lesion is cancerous. Rather than the two- to three-inch incision required in a typical biopsy, the Stealth Autoguide biopsy needle is inserted into a small hole that Dr. Jones likened to a “stab with a scalpel.”

“When it comes to malignant, aggressive tumors, waiting two to three weeks for the suture to heal very well could be two to three weeks of their life that [the patient] may not get back,” he said.

brain surgery, robotics, robot, neurosurgery

While this was Dr. Jones’ first procedure using the robotic platform at SMH, he has extensive experience with this equipment thanks to a fellowship in neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic.

A southern Illinois native and a 2015 graduate of SIU School of Medicine, he was the second physician to complete SIU’s residency program in neurosurgery. After returning to SIU in July 2022, he began discussing the possibility of bringing a Stealth Autoguide robot to SMH.

“This is a great example of how the partnership between the School of Medicine and Memorial Health benefits our patients,” said Chuck Callahan, president and CEO of Springfield Memorial Hospital. “The expertise that Dr. Jones gained during his fellowship at Mayo Clinic is now helping people in our area. Our surgical team is excited for the opportunity to bring this technology to central Illinois.”


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