Archive for the ‘SIH Brain & Spine Institute’ Category

Back Surgery Made Safer

Surgical Relief from Back Pain Made Safer

Today’s back pain may be tolerable; then tomorrow comes and you are “down in the back.” Neurosurgery crosses your mind, but spine surgery sounds so scary, with a long road to recovery.
At the SIH Brain & Spine Institute, new image-guided 3D navigation technology is the latest extension of surgical services at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. It allows for a safer spinal surgery and a faster road to recovery.

If you are thinking about neurosurgery, you want exceptionally trained physicians with extensive knowledge about anatomy and precision with the scalpel. Image-guided, 3D-technology is the extra safeguard tool to help doctors be even more precise.

“The technology actually allows us to pre-plan your surgery in a 3-dimensional virtual reality environment,” said Dr. Eugenio Vargas, neurosurgeon at SIH Medical Group. “It’s really similar to a sophisticated 3D GPS system.” It helps neurosurgeons know precisely where to make incisions and where to concentrate.

Benefits to image-guided spine surgery

According to Vargas, doctors utilize the technology in the operating room for real-time navigation. “When the patient is on the table, you register the patient with the pre-planned operation now in the system. It then knows the exact point in space where, for instance, a tumor is located. It even visualizes your instruments.” Before they even open the skin, neurosurgeons know where to make a precise incision.

A 25-year veteran neurosurgeon, Vargas has experienced this sophisticated evolution of spine surgery technology. “Before 3D navigation was available, we would rely on pre-surgery X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to create an image in the surgeons mind as to what the patient’s anatomy looked like, as well as where and what the problem was. At the time of surgery, we relied on our knowledge of anatomy and the information obtained from the pre-surgery studies to perform the procedure.”

Vargas says that today, in addition to using their knowledge of anatomy, doctors use the 3D navigation to show them a computerized, virtual reality image of the patient’s anatomy and the problem that needs to be addressed. Without necessarily making big incisions, the surgeon can, through smaller incisions, get precisely down to where the problem is. That translates into a safer surgery.

For the patient, that means recovery time is usually reduced by one or two days, which can be significant. There’s also generally less pain.

When Back Pain is Too Much, Let Us Help You Decide What to Do

At the SIH Brain & Spine Institute, you will have the full gambit of specialists to help you feel better. Along the way other abnormalities of the spine may be discovered. They may or may not be what is producing the pain.

“We all have degenerative changes as we age, changes which most of the time don’t produce symptoms,” said Vargas. “Based on your specific symptoms, examinations and studies, the goal is to gather all the information, analyze it and determine where the pain is coming from.”

A diverse array of physician specialists (neurologists, pain management specialists, physician extenders, neurosurgeons) at SIH Brain & Spine Institute allows a team-approach to patient care. Together, they pool their knowledge and examine all the pieces of the puzzle. Then the plan of care is made.

Today’s back pain may simply require medication. The next time it may be a different problem and require physical therapy, injections or surgery.

“A good spine team like ours has different physicians, physical therapists, physician extenders, etc. all working your case together,” claims Vargas. “Seventy percent of patients may not need surgical care to relieve the pain.” Often it can be treated and made better without surgery.

Is it time for you to take action?

Contact the SIH Brain & Spine Institute
618.351.4972. Learn more.

How a Neurointensivist and dedicated Inpatient Neuro Unit help patients

The SIH Brain & Spine Institute offers some of the most advanced treatments and surgical techniques for patients with brain and spinal injuries or conditions. An interdisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, hospitalists, rehabilitation specialist and advance nurses will provide balanced care for these complex patients.

Inpatient Neurology Unit

We are pleased to have opened a dedicated neurology unit on the third floor of Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. The rooms on the unit have specific equipment installed for neurologic care including continuous EEG with video monitoring.

Disease & Condition Management

Our Inpatient Neurology Service provides care for patients with neurological injuries and conditions such as:

  • Stroke
  • Intracranial hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage and subdural hematoma
  • Cerebral Edema
  • Encephalopathy
  • Neurological prognostication after brain injury
  • Confirmation of diagnosis and second opinion on brain death
  • Demyelinating conditions
  • Neuroimmunological emergencies
  • Respiratory failure and mechanical ventilation in neurologically ill patients
  • Neurosurgical post operative recovery
  • Status epilepticus
  • Neurological infections
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • EEG
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Lumbar punctures
  • Intraventricular Thrombolysis
  • Placement and Management of external ventricular drains
  • Ventilator management of Neurocritical Care Patients
  • Fiber Optic intracranial Pressure Monitoring
  • Central Line Placement and Monitoring
  • Plasmapheresis
  • IVIG
  • Arterial Line Placement and Monitoring
  • Lumbar drains


What is a Neurointensivist?

The Neurointensivist specializes in the care of patients suffering from strokes and other severe neurological problems. Caring for this population of patients requires a highly specialized multi-disciplinary approach and state of the art infrastructure. Dr. Alejandro Hornik has recently joined SIH to provide this valuable service and will focus on the neurological in-patients.

For more information, call 618.351.4972.

Coordinated spine care under one roof

When patients have neck or back pain, the last thing they need is to shuffle from place to place looking for answers. That’s where the SIH Brain & Spine Institute comes in —to coordinate patient care in a way that ensures timely evaluation and accurate treatment.

Typical wait times to see a spine surgeon can be bogged down by non-surgical patients: appropriate patients experience unnecessary delays before surgery, while non-surgical patients may leave without any treatment. But with the help of our staff, patients will:

  • Avoid long wait times before seeing a physician
  • Enjoy a quick, easy referral process
  • Avoid unnecessary office visits
  • Receive timely treatment from the most appropriate Specialist

What we do for patients is ground-breaking: We remove the barriers that might keep them waiting for months to get answers. Patients with an urgent spine condition will have an appointment within a week.

Our collaborative approach includes a team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, interventional pain physicians, physiatrists, nurse navigators, rehabilitation professionals, and other advanced practitioners.

SIH Brain & Spine Institute nurse navigators track each patient’s progress through treatment, while maintaining ongoing communication with the patient and the referring physician.

SIH Brain & Spine Institute

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Professional Office Building
305 West Jackson Street, Suite 103
Carbondale, IL 62901
618.351.4972 Ext. 66429

Nurse Navigation

Sarah Hendrix, RN and Cindy Courtney, RN are the Nurse Navigators at the SIH Brain & Spine Institute using Priority Consult to conduct patient intake, triage and navigation. Sarah and Cindy’s role as Nurse Navigators is to use the web-based software to manage the patient experience. This involves:

  • Collection of treatment information
  • Coordinating physician review of the medical history
  • Providing patient education
  • Facilitating triage and scheduling with spine specialists

Supporting the provider team by previewing treatments and answering questions with the patient while communicating the patient status in real time with the referring physician.