Kettering Health Network on the cutting edge of neurological treatment
By Beth Langefels
Dayton has long been on the cutting edge of innovation. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight to the invention of the cash register the Miami Valley can brag of many “firsts.”
Kettering Health Network has been on the forefront of brain and spine treatments for decades. And now its doctors are using artificial intelligence to help reverse disability in stroke patients.
Bruce Chan, the executive director of the Network’s Brain and Spine Service Line says the RAPID™ imaging platform from iSchemaView is a new class of automated brain imaging software that allows doctors to quickly visualize reductions in the blood flow to the brain and target treatment.
“If a patient is a candidate for a thrombectomy (blood clot removal) we can use the software to target the clot,” Chan says. “About 80 percent of all stroke patients have ischemic or clot-related strokes.”
Chan also says the new software, which was first put into use at Kettering Health Network in October, extends the window of treatment up to 24 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms. Previously most “clot-busting” medications were given within 4-5 hours of the last known symptom.
“The software takes an image of the brain and calculates the parts of the brain that have been injured versus the parts that have not,” Chan says. “It uses artificial intelligence to allow the physician to gain instant access to the patient’s brain and determine appropriate treatment.”
The RAPID systems and software are cutting edge, and have been featured in national publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Chan says it’s important to Kettering Health Network to offer the best care available to patients.
“We have already had a few patients who have benefited from this,” Chan says. “It does help reverse the effects of stroke in more patients and they are fully recovering. It’s amazing to see.”
Chan has been in his position with the brain and spine service line since September and says it is growing rapidly. In addition to stroke, it offers treatment and care for brain tumors, functional movement patients (Parkinson’s Disease and Epilepsy, for example) and all aspects of spine-related issues, including pain, numbness and fractures.
“About 70 percent of our cases are spine related,” Chan says. “There are many people suffering from pinched nerve and discs as well as spine compressions. Our goal is to fix these and allow patients to live pain free.”
Also on the cutting edge with spine procedures, Kettering Health Network surgeons focus on minimally invasive treatment that allows patients to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.
“We offer complex spine surgeries for patients who have had previous failures,” Chan says. “But mostly we focus on non-surgical spine treatment.”
Chan says additional spine surgeons as well as a physical medicine rehabilitation physician will be added to the team. Currently spine procedures are performed at Grandview, Sycamore, Fort Hamilton and Soin medical centers using MRI and computer imaging to help surgeons achieve high levels of precision.
Brain tumors are abnormal cells in the brain that can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Kettering Brain and Spine offers Gamma Knife procedures, which allow surgeons to customize treatments for individual patients and treat only the damaged part of the brain while preserving healthy tissue.
“It’s very exciting,” Chan says. “The Gamma Knife is not really a knife at all. Instead it’s radiation using gamma rays and no incision.”
Gamma Knife surgery is also an option for patients who are poor candidates for conventional surgery due to age, health conditions or who cannot tolerate general anesthesia.
And Kettering Health Network’s Neuroscience Institute also offers the Gamma Knife Perfexion, a result of more than four decades of research.
Currently Kettering Health Network is the only medical facility in Southwest Ohio using this procedure and is among only a few worldwide.
“These procedures allow the neurosurgeon to use MRI guidance to pinpoint the brain tumor and vaporize it,” Chan says. “This saves on recovery time and it’s much, much quicker.”
Epilepsy and seizure disorders affect between 80,000 to 150,000 people in Ohio. Almost all of these are taking some form of anti-seizure medication.
“The effectiveness of these medications is hit or miss,” Chan says. “Sometimes the best treatment is surgical, though it is also the most invasive.”
Kettering Health Network surgeons have access to state-of-the-art equipment in the operating rooms that allow them to map a patient’s brain and precisely pinpoint the areas of treatment.
“There is a long process before surgery to identify the locations of the brain that are causing the seizures,” Chan says. “We are really ramping up this program as more patients learn that there is a local option and they don’t have to travel to other cities.”
In addition, Kettering Health Network offers deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients that helps dramatically reduce the “tremors,” and other symptoms of the disease.
In April Kettering Health Network will be opening a new office that will unite brain and spine surgeons and professionals under one roof. Located on the main campus of Kettering Medical Center, it will include the physician’s offices that will care for spine, brain tumor, stroke, epilepsy and movement disorders.
“We want everyone to be aware that they do not have to go out of our local area to receive cutting-edge treatment,” Chan says. “We offer the same procedures as they do at Cleveland Clinic, at Ohio State and in Cincinnati as well as other high-end medical centers.”
Chan says that going to a community hospital has great benefits as well, including a new team of physicians who have devoted themselves to Kettering Health Network and have been selected to ensure longevity.
“We will be here to serve the community for a long time to come,” Chan says.