With HealthCanada Approval, Project neuroArm Performs Brain Surgery on First “Public Patient”
With full approval for marketing and use from the Canadian government, Project neuroArm performed robotic brain surgery on a meningioma patient on May 12. While it was the project’s first “public patient,” according to Dr. Garnette Sutherland, MD, who lead the team, the device had actually been used on several human patients prior to then, Sutherland said.
“We received our HealthCanada approval just last month; that allows us to use the neuroArm on anyone,” Sutherland said. The project is just now planning its FDA strategy, Sutherland said.
For its first public patient, the team chose a young woman with a benign brain tumor called a meningioma. “The nice thing about a meningioma is that it has a benign histology. When you take it out, it’s out,” said Sutherland. “We wanted to do someone who had a more straight-forward thing,” he said.
Despite the benign histology, Sutherland said, the family of tumor may still grow while in place, and eventually the patient can develop headaches or lose her sense of smell, he said.
The procedure was performed on Paige Nickason, 21, at Foothills Medical Centre in Canada. The neuroArm is a robotic surgical tool designed specifically for brain surgery; like the da Vinci surgical system, the neuroArm is controlled by a surgeon from a computer workstation, and works in conjunction with intraoperative MRI. During the recent operation, surgeons performed a mixed procedure, alternating between robotic and manual surgery.
Before taking on another “public patient,” the project is making some adjustments to the equipment, Sutherland said. “Right now we’re upgrading our magnet to 3 Tesla. That should allow us to get faster images and further integration into robotics. It should take a couple of months, and then we’ll go back on stream,” Sutherland said.