The Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) hosted a groundbreaking Innovation and Technology Symposium at its recent Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In a first-of-its-kind gathering, neurosurgeons, lead engineers, inventors, researchers, CEOs and venture capitalists gathered to discuss breakthrough technologies and devices in cerebrovascular/endovascular, spine and brain tumor procedures.
Key thought leaders presented dramatic new research and ideas in device technology, imaging, biomaterials, molecular diagnostics and regenerative medicine that are fueling the rapid advancement of neurosurgery. Devices and technologies discussed included:
- Google Glass The CNS, in partnership with the Ohio State University, was pleased to be the first medical education society to debut these glasses live during the general scientific session assembly. These glasses provide real-time access to the internet with voice command and display. This allows for a multimodality and live review and integration of various imaging (CT, MRI), physiological, video and other important data and information to facilitate the neurosurgical management of patients. The glasses also allow for many options to communicate with peers, consultants, and other health care workers.
- The development of biological replacements for discs in the neck and lower back, involving the transplants of live progenitor cells to encourage the growth and development of healthy tissue to replace diseased tissue;
- A new laser technology that allows the neurosurgeon to reach and treat deeply seated tumors (near the brain stem) or those located perilously close to critical brain structures such as speech or motor function (tumors that may have previously been deemed “inoperable”). Used in conjunction with intra-operative MRI, this ultra-thin laser very selectively heats up and conforms to the shape of the tumor, providing a “heat map” and enabling the surgeon to identify and destroy diseased tissue in an unprecedentedly precise manner;
- New devices for the coil treatment of aneurysms that involve a web-like or ball-like device to aid in the closure of the aneurysm opening;
- A laser device that sutures bypass vessels with precision, and eliminates the need for traditional suturing;
- A new type of endoscope to remove blood clots from the brain, affording a minimally invasive option for such procedures;
- Intra-operative MRI technology for treatment of both cerebrovascular conditions (such as stroke) and tumors;
- The use of fluorescent peptides in surgery to highlight and give color to nerves, enabling safer and more effective procedures; and
- The ability to retrieve exosomes (floating genetic material) from tumor sites for diagnostics and treatments, and to track disease recurrence or drug efficacy. This technology dramatically shortens diagnostic time frames from months to days.
“Such candid, open dialogue about these dramatic new developments in our field was truly a unique experience,” said CNS Co-Course Director Steven N. Kalkanis, MD. “The innovation we saw at this session has the power to change lives by making neurosurgery safer and more effective than ever before.”
Co-Course Director Brian L. Hoh, MD, added, “It was inspiring to see the collaboration between the business and medical communities, which will help bring these technologies to market more quickly, and will ultimately improve patient outcomes. This was a powerful and very encouraging glimpse into the future of neurosurgery.”
The Innovation and Technology Symposium was presented in part through a generous partnership with Medtronic. Presenting companies also included Sequent Medical, Inc., Codman Neuro/DePuy Synthes, Elana bv, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Exosome Diagnostics, Inc., Visualase, Inc., Monteris Medical, Inc., as well as numerous academics from leading neurosurgery programs around the United States.
Ali R. Rezai, MD, immediate Past President of the CNS, added, “This symposium was unlike anything we have ever seen at the CNS Annual Meeting. We were pleased and proud to host such a world-class, interactive dialogue among the foremost thought leaders in neurosurgery today. This type of exchange is an essential step towards changing the way medical care is delivered in the United States and, ultimately, throughout the world.”