Unity - Treatment for Brain & Spine Tumors

The Technology | Radiation Oncology Capabilities | Our Team

In 2012, Saint Thomas West Hospital announced the opening of the new Unity System - the first fully-integrated neurosurgical center of its kind in the United States for treating brain tumors.

The name Unity is symbolic of the collaborative approach between physicians and technology; it includes the newest imaging and treatment technologies to seamlessly create a virtual Operating Room where physicians can join together and work in real-time as a unified team to determine the best treatment plan for the patient, even the most complicated brain cancer and tumor cases.

For more information about the UNITY System at Saint Thomas West Hospital, please call 615.222.STNI (7864).

The Technology

Surgical Capabilities

OR 2 no tech -- or-2_no-tech_web.jpgBrainlab Brainsuite®/ VISIUS Surgical Theatre™ by IMRIS is a state-of-the-art neurosurgical OR environment that integrates high field intraoperative MRI imaging, computer assisted planning, stereotactic image guided navigation, video conferencing and data networking.
Together, Brainsuite and VISIUS Surgical Theatre form the most advanced technology available for complicated brain cancer and tumor neurosurgical cases. It helps ensure we remove the targeted tumor area, so patients don't have to go through unnecessary subsequent surgeries. Without the need for additional surgeries, patients benefit from faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays.

  • iMRI -- imri_web.jpgiMRI:Saint Thomas West Hospital is one of the nation's first hospitals to utilize IMRIS's intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) technology for the treatment of brain cancer and tumors. The iMRI is an open bore 1.5 tesla imaging magnet that brings high resolution imaging capabilities directly into the OR during surgery without ever moving the patient from the OR table. Within UNITY the MRI and its ceiling-mounted transport system, MR-compatible OR tables and unique technology allow the surgeon to keep the patient in the best possible position for surgery.
    Thin slice high-resolution images are routinely obtained preoperatively to create a 3D model and a 'personalized brain map' for surgical planning and navigation purposes. During a procedure surgical margins can become indistinct, brain tissues move or important structures migrate. When that occurs the imaging magnet can be moved into the OR and a real-time brain map and a corrected surgical plan can be developed from updated MRI images. This allows for more accurate treatment of brain cancer and tumors.
    In addition to providing surgeons with real-time images, the iMRI also offers these benefits:

    • Sharper imagery that can be updated during the procedure
    • More thorough removal of brain tumors - this technology almost eliminates the need for re-operation and injury to key brain functions, giving the patient a better quality of life
    • Diagnostic advantages
  • Image Guided Surgery System (IGS): IGS is a surgical concept and set of methods that uses computer technology for presurgical planning and guidance of surgical interventions. It is also referred to as "stereotactic image guidance," "computer assisted surgery," "surgical navigation" or "neuronavigation." The Navigation system is manufactured by Brainlab and is referred to as the VectorVision® sky Navigation Station.
  • Screen 3 -- screens-3.jpgComputer Assisted Surgery System: Prior to the surgical event a computer assisted surgical plan is developed for each brain cancer and tumor patient. This plan, a personalized brain map, is imported into Brainsuite navigation and is used to guide the surgical procedure.

  • Computer Assisted Surgical Planning:PPrior to the surgical event a computer assisted surgical plan is developed for each patient. This plan, a personalized brain map, is imported into Brainsuite navigation and is used to guide the surgical procedure.

  • iPlan Net® is the software used for planning. It's an innovative cloud, or network based application, that allows for location-independent planning, collaborative session sharing and seamless integration with our Saint Thomas' Integrated Neuroscience Center radiosurgery platform.

  • OR 3 -- or-3_web.jpgBrainsuite NET:The digital integration system for the hybrid OR suite, this network platform coordinates and integrates surgical planning, navigation, image transfer, auto registration, Dicom import and export, HD medical grade visualization and streaming audio/video conferencing for collaboration during surgical procedures.

  • st thomas footage 16 -- st.thomas-footage-16_web.jpgFunctional Brain Mapping: The 1.5T intraoperative MR of the VISIUS Surgical Theatre makes it possible to perform intraoperative Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), identifying axonal pathways or communicating fiber tracks, and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) - critical information which is incorporated into Brainsuite Net for surgical planning and navigation processes. This helps to preserve eloquent brain tissue and minimize risks to brain cancer and tumor patients.

Radiation Oncology Capabilities

st thomas footage 13 -- st.thomas-footage-13_web.jpgSaint Thomas West Hospital is one of the first centers in the United States to offer TrueBeam™ STx with Novalis® Radiosurgery to their patients. TrueBeam™ STx with Novalis® Radiosurgery is the newest shaped beam treatment technology available, which is a revolutionary method in treatment of cancer.
TrueBeam™ STx with Novalis® Radiosurgery system employs technical innovations through a control system entirely redesigned in order to dynamically synchronize imaging, patient positioning, movement management and treatment. 

TrueBeam 1 -- truebeam-1_web.jpgDesigned as a multi-purpose platform by Brainlab and Varian, TrueBeam™ STx with Novalis® Radiosurgery system may be used for all advanced radiotherapy modalities including conventional and 3D conformal radiotherapy, radiotherapy and radiosurgery supported with imaging (IGRT and IGRS), intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Intracranial and extracranial radiosurgery can be carried out with precision below the millimeter.

Advanced, state-of-the-art computers create three-dimensional images that guide radiation oncologists and surgeons to pinpoint-target the tumor or lesion. This micro-precision technology allows high doses of radiation to be delivered to the irregular edges and contours of the tumor without harming the surrounding areas of the body. Our patients benefit from this advanced, non-invasive technology with faster recovery time, minimal disruptions, and fewer complications.

No incision is necessary, surrounding healthy tissue is not affected, and general anesthesia is not required for adults. Most patients can be treated on an outpatient basis.

Our Team

Together, our team offers hope for patients, their families and community by providing trained, dedicated personnel. Key highlights from our team include:

  • Our multidisciplinary brain and spine tumor board, which includes neurosurgeons, radiologists, oncologists, pathologists and other care providers, who meet weekly to collaborate, develop and coordinate the best individualized treatment plan possible for our patients.
  • Our neurosurgeons perform hundreds of brain surgeries annually and utilize the latest advancements in technology, ultimately allowing for better patient outcomes.
  • Our radiation oncologists offer very specialized forms of radiation therapy, including our Novalis BrainLAB stereotactic radiosurgery program, the first in Tennessee.
  • Our pathologists see many brain tumors and work collaboratively with other major centers, such as Johns Hopkins Department of Neuropathology, to analyze each tumor. Tissue analysis for brain and spine tumors is the most important step in determining the individualized treatment plan for each patient.
  • Our oncology specialists from the Dan Rudy Cancer Center and Sarah Cannon Cancer Center are up-to-date with the latest advancements in brain tumor treatment.

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