Covenant introduces new brain-mapping technology

Covenant introduces new brain-mapping technology

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Covenant Health is the second health system in Texas to adopt Synaptive Medical’s BrightMatter.

According to a press release from Synaptive Medical, the BrightMatter technology includes a highly detailed imaging and robotic positioning system with sensor-driven tools which can be oriented in positions never before possible by microscopes.

According to the press release, the new technology enables surgeons to navigate the brain during surgery through the use of dynamic, three-dimensional images. BrightMatter automatically maps and highlights all the tracts in the brain for surgical planning.

It was most recently used on Marco Hicks, a high school math teacher from Clovis, New Mexico who has been living with seizures his whole life.

Hicks said he and his doctor tried for years different ways to treat the seizures, but the medication never seemed to work. That’s when he said his doctor told him about this surgery.

Hicks said he was nervous, but he knew it’s what he needed to do for his family.

“The fear that came to me was explaining to them what my goal was, and it was to live a better life and to be the father that need to be here and the husband that needed to be here,” Hicks said.

Hicks was made unconscious for the procedure and then brought back to consciousness so Michael Barrett, a Speech Language Pathologist, could test his language ability.

Barrett would show Hicks an image of an item such as a sock or hammer, and Hicks would have to tell him what it was. Barrett and Hicks practiced this exercise before the surgery, so if Hicks could not name the item, Barrett would know something was wrong.

“I am the assistant to Dr. Smith as he is stimulating the brain in particular areas to either inhibit a function or stimulate a function and we see if a patient is able to function with a certain part of the brain stimulated,” Barrett said.

Dr. Smith, a neurosurgeon at Covenant who performed the procedure, said he did not want to remove a part of the brain that was important for speech while he was trying to treat the seizures.

This is tricky, as the part of the temporal lobe that was causing Hicks seizures is close to the part that controls speech. With the help of the new technology, Dr. Smith could see more clearly which areas of the brain were being effected.

“This new navigational technology allows us to have a map kind of like a GPS unit for your head that allows us to know where we’re working with precision at any given time,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith said what used to take hours now takes five minutes to map. He said it is remarkable.

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