Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville is robotics leader
World’s first to use Mazor Robotics system for bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation
April 2, 2014 | Jacksonville, FL
Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville is an international leader in using robotic-assisted surgery to help patients with Parkinson’s and other similar conditions.
Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville is the first in the world to perform bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation using the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System, according to Mazor officials, which means the procedure is done to treat both sides of the brain in one operation.
Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville is also the first to use Renaissance for frameless deep brain stimulation so the patient does not have to be fixated to a large stereotactic or halo-type frame around their head. Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville is just one of three hospitals in the world using Mazor Robotic Renaissance system for deep brain stimulation.
Surgeons are currently using the procedure for people with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and for essential tremor, which is a brain disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking or tremors in different parts of the body.
Brad Wallace, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, who performs the bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation, said the robot is an alternative to the traditional surgery that involves a rigid frame attached to a patient’s head which the surgeon uses to help calculate a target in the brain for the deep brain stimulation.
With the Mazor system, Dr. Wallace said, “the patient is not required to go into the frame and be fixated. There is a patient-comfort component. The patient is awake for a portion of the surgery. Not being fixed to the bed and being able to move a little bit, is an advantage to the patient.”
The traditional method is also more time consuming, Dr. Wallace said, because the surgeon has to dial-in coordinates for each side of the brain for a bilateral procedure and do the same if there are modifications during the procedure.
Jerry Bliffen, 76, of Orange Park, who has had familial essential tremors for about 30 years in his legs and hands, just wanted to be able to eat normally and feel comfortable in public. He and his wife like to eat out twice a week and he’s learned tricks on how to feed himself to keep his food from flying off his silverware.
“More than anything I want to be more comfortable. Sometimes you don’t realize it, but people do stare,” said Bliffen, whose father and sister also had tremors.
Dr. Wallace performed the frameless bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation surgery this month on the retired bus driver using the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System. Bliffen was on various medications previously, but nothing worked. After having the stimulators recently programmed, he’s already seeing fewer tremors.
When he drinks water, for example, he doesn’t have the shakes like before. He was also thankful to have the frameless surgery with the robot because he had heard the large halo-type frame “is very painful.”
With the frameless surgery, the robot attaches to the patient’s skull using only three screws and a small mounting platform the size of a silver dollar. The robot helps guide the physician in implanting electrodes which deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas of the brain that control movement.
Using 3-D images from both an MRI and CT scan of the patient, the images are synchronized with the robotic system. This enables the physician to map out before even the surgery begins where he will place the electrodes in the brain. The electrodes are connected to one or more Medtronic neurostimulators implanted near the collarbone (much like a pacemaker) which block the abnormal brain signals that cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s and Essential Tremor.
Guy Leblanc, 54, of Jacksonville, had bilateral Deep Brain Stimulation surgery in 2009 where he lived in South Carolina. He now receives follow-up care from Dr. Wallace, including having surgery last year to replace the batteries in his neurostimulators. He had the surgery without the robot under the traditional method, which involves having a large frame screwed to his head that he described as heavy and painful. He wishes the robot and frameless surgery was an option at that time.
As a painting contractor for 33 years, his hands were his life. He had essential tremors until he was about 13, but in 2002 or 2003 the shaking became unmanageable. He couldn’t use his tools and his wife had to help feed him and assist him in the bathroom.
“I went into a deep, deep depression. I just didn’t feel human anymore,” Leblanc said.
Now Leblanc owns a doggie ice cream business, Luckee Dog K-9 Kool Treats, and travels to dog parks and events in and outside of Florida. He also speaks at seminars about the surgery and neurostimulators.
“I love doing this because if I can help one person realize there is hope out there than I did my job,” he said. Ori Hadomi, CEO of Mazor Robotics, added, “We are very grateful to partner with a premier institution, Baptist, and distinguished neurosurgeon, Dr. Wallace, in advancing patient care. We are very happy to see the value and benefit of using Renaissance in brain applications being experienced in Jacksonville.”