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Treatments We Offer

Treatments That Offer Hope

Neurological Institute at Littleton Adventist Hospital in ColoradoThe nationally recognized neurosurgeons at Littleton Adventist Hospital place us among the leaders in the Rocky Mountain region for brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgery). Our team of neurosurgeons includes the state's preeminent expert in treating trigeminal neuralgia (offering all three of the most common treatment options); the state's most experienced neurosurgeon in performing deep brain stimulation (DBS); a neurosurgeon with three post-graduate fellowships (adult neurosurgery, reconstructive spinal surgery, and spinal deformity); an interventional neurologist specializing in stroke and vascular neurology and endovascular neurosurgery; and one of only two fellowship-trained functional neurologists in Colorado, offering hope to patients who have not responded to conventional treatments.

Some of the many treatment options we offer include:

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure used to treat disabline neurologial symptoms, most commonly found in Parkinson's disease, such as tremor, rigidity, slowed movement, and gait problems. It is also used for patients who have not responded to conventional treatments, such as those suffering from dystonia and migraine.

Dr. David VanSickle talks about DBS

DBS involves implanting a lead (also called an electrode) in the patient's brain. The lead is then connected to a neurostimulator (battery pack) implanted under the skin near the collarbone. Impulses from the neurostimulator interfere with and block the electrical signals that trigger motion disorders or pain. DBS has been used in more than 80,000 Parkinson's patients since 1995, and it has been proven to be more effective than treatment with medication alone.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (Gamma Knife/Cyberknife)

Radiosurgery is a medical technology used to treat acousic neuromas, brain metastases/gliomas, craniopharyngiomas, miningiomas of the skull base, Parkinson's disease, trigeminal neuralgia, pituitary adenomas, recurrent brain tumors and spine tumors/metastases. Technically, radiosurgery is not a surgery. It operates by directing sharply focused beams of radiation to the target area.

Gamma Knife and Cyberknife are two types of radiosurgery. They differ in that Gamma knife requires the patient to wear a head frame, which is surgically attached to the skull. The frame keeps the head in one position and helps focus the gamma rays on the exact location of the tumor. Gamma Knife is considered the gold standard for treating conditions located within the brain.

Cyberknife is a frameless system and therefore truly non-invasive. It is best used for conditions where there's a moving target, such as the lungs, which are constantly moving, or a spine that may move on the operating table. In essence, it can "chase" the target area. Cyberknife also makes it easier to deliver multiple treatments over time because the patient does not require a surgically-fitted frame.

Both systems include image-guidance and motion management tools that provide detailed information about the shape, size and position of the target area. Because radiosurgery is less-invasive and more targeted compared to traditional surgery, it offers the potential for fewer complications, such as injury to the surrounding normal brain tissue.

Microvascular decompression

MVD (microvascular decompression) is typically used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, vagoglossopharyngeal neuralgia, and hemifacial spasm. These are painful conditions caused by an artery or vein compressing a nerve root where it exits the brainstem. MVD is a major surgery performed under general anesthesia. To perform MVD, your surgeon makes a small incision near the "offendin" nerve and implants a Teflon® felt pad between the blood vessels and the nerve to alleviate the pressure and resulting pain signals.

Percutaneous rhizotomy (PRR)

Percutaneous radio rhizotomy (PRR) is used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia and cluster headaches. The outpatient surgery is performed while you are consciously sedated. Guided by an X-ray, your surgeon inserts a thin needle into the area with the "offending" nerve. An electrode at the end of the needle is then heated and used to burn the nerve. The damage to the nerve numbs the pain signal.

Interventional neurology

Interventional neurology is a developing treatment option for patients with neurological conditions, such as brain aneurysms, stroke, and narrowing blood vessels of the head and neck (arterial stenosis). Interventional neurological surgery uses X-rays to guide small catheters (thin, hollow tubes) through arteries in the head and neck. Compared to open surgery, this minimally invasive method offers the potential for speedier recoveries and less risk of complications.

Minimally invasive and motion-preserving spine surgery

Our physicians are experts in treating all spine-related conditions and offer a range of treatment options, including minimally invasive procedures. Minimally invasive procedures access the surgical area using an endoscope, a thin tube outfitted with a light and camera on the end. This technology allows your surgeon to see inside the small incisions on a video monitor. Compared to open surgery, minimally invasive surgery offers the potential for speedier recoveries and less risk of complications. However, conditions such as major spine deformity, extensive trauma, infection or spinal tumors must be treated with open (traditional) surgery.

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