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New Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery System Dramatically Lessens Impact, Improves Outcomes for Patients

At Pacific Brain & Spine, our surgeons use the most advanced neurosurgical
technologies to give patients the best possible outcomes.

Dr. Dickinson is one of the first neurosurgeons in Northern California to be trained in two state-of-the-art technologies for treating brain tumors — BrightMatter™ Neurosurgical Robotic System and the BrainPath® Tubular Retraction System.

Together these 2 systems enable minimally invasive access to deep-seated brain tumors, which have become increasingly common. Patients with brain tumors can present with vision problems, recurring headaches, memory loss, or weakness on one side of the body.

Up Until Now…

In previous years, removing a deep-seated tumor located within or near white matter tracks of the brain posed a serious risk that could compromise a patient’s motor functions, speech, vision or memory. In many cases the surgeon 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. Prolonged patient recovery of three to five days in the ICU, followed by a lengthy stay at a rehab hospital for some patients was not uncommon.

New Hope for Patients…

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

Once Dr. Dickinson determines that he can safely remove the tumor BrightMatter imports the plan into its optical navigation system which guides him to the tumor during the procedure. He uses the BrightMatter Robotic Arm, which is a precise optical video microscope that allows him to view images of the brain in high definition, without having to look into a surgical microscope.

The Robotic Arm is controlled by GPS navigation technology so that when the surgeon moves his instruments the Robotic Arm follows his movements simultaneously, and pinpoints the location of his BrightMatter instruments in the brain. Dr. Dickinson and the surgical team are all fully engaged by viewing the procedure on a 55-inch monitor, instead of the small lens of the surgical microscope.

With the Robotic Arm, Dr. Dickinson can follow the trajectory he had planned, or make an adjustment and see how the change will affect the white matter tracks before he starts to resection the tumor. The Robotic Arm can also set new positions or go back to previous positions to help speed up the procedure.

BrightMatter works hand in hand with BrainPath, a tubular retractor that allows Dr. Dickinson to use a much smaller opening, both in the skull and brain, keeping surrounding brain tissue intact when he removes the tumor through a small port. If necessary, he can resection a larger tumor underneath the surface of the brain through this small opening.

Easy Recovery…

Now, depending on the size and the location of the tumor, patients can look forward to a much shorter operation and a potentially shorter stay in the ICU. They can expect to return home a few days after surgery.

For Dr. Dickinson and Pacific Brain & Spine, the combined use of BrightMatter and BrainPath for operating on deep seated brain tumors sets the new standard of care.

Patients who have been referred to Dr. Dickinson for evaluation can call our office at 925-884-2360 and ask to speak with one of our clinic coordinators. We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about this exciting new, minimally invasive procedure, or any other treatment options that we offer at Pacific Brain & Spine.

Watch Videos on BrightMatter™ and the BrainPath®…

Dr. Zachery Litvack Introduces BrightMatter and BrainPath Technologies

Bloomberg Canada “The Robots Revolutionizing the Operating Room”


Brain Tumor Surgery with BrightMatter: A Patient’s Perspective
Fox News Henry Ford Patient Story: New Technology Gives Hope