In this issue

September 2017

BrightMatter: pushing the boundaries of neuroscience and bringing new hope to patients

At Pacific Brain & Spine, we pride ourselves in using the most innovative neurosurgical technologies to make sure we achieve the best possible outcomes for patients.

Along with my colleagues Dr. Randall and Dr. Mimran, we are the first neurosurgeons in Northern California to be trained in two medical devices that are pushing the boundaries of neuroscience. We are now able to remove deep seated brain tumors that were previously considered inoperable.

The BrightMatter™ Neurosurgical Robotic System and the BrainPath® Tubular Retraction System now give us minimally invasive access to deeply-lodged brain tumors, which have become increasingly common. These patients can present with vision problems, recurring headaches, memory loss, or weakness on one side of the body.

In previous years, removing a deep-seated tumor located within or near eloquent areas of the brain posed a serious risk that could compromise a patient’s motor functions, speech, vision or memory. In many cases we would choose not to operate and would refer the patient for radiosurgery or laser ablation to shrink or remove the tumor or other abnormality.

Or else, the deep seated tumors would require a large opening in the patient’s skull, with a high risk of significant trauma to surrounding tissue to reach the tumor. Patients could expect to be in the ICU for three to five days, followed by a lengthy stay at a rehab hospital for some patients.

Today, we are using BrightMatter and BrainPath to operate on these deep seated tumors. First, BrightMatter’s whole brain tractography planning software uses a special MRI scan called a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The DTI and planning software allows us to evaluate the patient’s tumor in 3-D and see intricate details of the white matter tracts within or near the tumor, and helps us find the best route to access it and safely remove it.

Once I make the determination that I can safely remove the tumor BrightMatter imports the plan into an optical navigation system that guides me to the tumor during the actual procedure.

I use the BrightMatter Robotic Arm, which is a precise optical video microscope that lets me view images of the brain in high definition and doesn’t require any refocusing. The Robotic Arm is also controlled by a GPS navigation system so that when I move my instruments it follows my movements simultaneously.

The BrightMatter surgical microscope gives me unprecedented views of the brain without having to manipulate heavy equipment or lean over the patient in awkward angles that are uncomfortable, and can cause fatigue and negatively impacts focus. So there is a strong ergonomic component to the system. The surgical team and I are all fully engaged by viewing the procedure on a 55-inch monitor, instead of the small lens of the surgical microscope.

The Robotic Arm also lets me follow the trajectory of my pre-surgical plan, or make an adjustment and see how the change will affect the white matter tracks if I have to resection a large tumor.

BrightMatter works hand in hand with BrainPath, a tubular retractor that allows me to create a much smaller opening, both in the skull and brain, keeping surrounding brain tissue intact when I remove the tumor through the small port. If the tumor requires a resection to fit through the port, BrightMatter’s improved optics and preciseness make it safe to do so.

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the operation stands to be a lot shorter and patients have a much shorter stay in the ICU. They can expect to return home a few days after surgery.

BrightMatter and BrainPath for operating on deep seated brain tumors are our new standard of care.

I would be happy to speak with you about the new system and whether your patient might be a candidate for the procedure. You can call our office at (925) 884-2360 and ask to speak with one of our clinical coordinators to arrange a call. I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about BrightMatter and Brain Path, or any other treatment options we offer patients for conditions of the brain and spine.

— Dr. Dickinson

Join us for dinner and a seminar to learn more about BrightMatter

On behalf of Pacific Brain & Spine, we invite you to join Dr. Dickinson for a special evening seminar about the latest neurosurgical techniques he is using to treat patients with previously inoperable brain tumors. Dinner is included.

Not long ago, patients with deep seated brain tumors were told that surgically removing the tumor posed great risk of destroying neural pathways, potentially causing blindness or loss of motor function. They would be referred for radiosurgery or laser ablation.

During his presentation, Dr. Dickinson will show how technological breakthroughs in pre-surgical planning, surgical navigation and microscopic visualization are pushing the boundaries of neuroscience and bringing new hope to patients.

Dinner and the seminar will be held on Thursday, October 26, 6:00pm at:
Black Hawk Country Club
599 Blackhawk Club Dr.
Danville, CA

To register, fill out the form below. For more information please email

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