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Bayhealth first on Delmarva to acquire ‘GPS’ for neurosurgery


Dr. Dawn Tartaglione demonstrates the 7D Surgical FLASH Navigation System, which takes real-time images during procedures, in a Oct. 13 presentation. | DBT PHOTO BY MADDY LAURIA.

DOVER — A new high-tech tool has given neurosurgeons at Bayhealth a new way to navigate delicate spine and cranial surgeries while also making surgery safer for staff and patients.

Bayhealth now marks the only hospital on the Delmarva Peninsula and in the Tri-State area with the 7D Surgical FLASH Navigation System, said 7D Surgical’s Rob Herzog. The machine, housed at Bayhealth’s Kent Campus, has already been put to work on more than half a dozen patients treated locally by neurosurgeons Amit Goyal and Dawn Tartaglione.

“It doesn’t replace what the surgeon does, it only helps us achieve what we’re trying to do in the safest and most efficient way possible,” said Goyal, who has been on the Bayhealth team for three years. “At the end of the day, it allows me to plan and use my tools and my skills the best way that I possibly can, but at the same time it reduces the time the patient is under anesthesia.”

That’s particularly important for elderly patients, like those already treated by Goyal and Tartaglione with the image guidance of the 7D system. Goyal said the equipment can reduce surgery times by hours.

The 7D system is akin to GPS for surgery, Goyal and Tartaglione explained during a live demonstration of the device Oct. 13. Doctors can use MRIs and CT scans taken before a procedure, upload them to the computer-based system and use tools to take real-time images while working. Without this technology, surgeons typically turned to X-ray machines. Using the 7D system instead also cuts back on the potential radiation exposure for both patients and staff, which has been linked to an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

The system doesn’t do surgery itself; rather, it offers high tech guidance that appears as 3-D images on the system’s screen. The system’s camera technology, aided by powerful LED lighting, allows surgeons to work with precision with the aid of handheld tools that can hone in on specific anatomical areas — whether that’s a specific vertebrae, or removing a brain tumor.

That means incisions can be even smaller, Goyal said, which in turn can significantly reduce recovery time and post-surgery risks.

“I think it’s revolutionary for our field overall,” he said. “This has changed how we can take care of the patients.”

Bayhealth and company representatives said the underlying technology that allows the computer system and handheld tools to communicate is similar to self-driving automobiles or facial recognition software on cellphones.

A hospital spokeswoman said the 7D system costs between $500,000 and $1 million, while Herzog affirmed that it cost “half or one-third of everything on the market.” Herzog said 7D has installed 70 of the machines globally, 40 of which can be found at health care facilities in North America. The first device went online in 2018 at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

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