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A global destination for innovative head and neck care

Led by Dr. Amin Kassam, the NorthShore Neurological Institute at Northwest Community Healthcare is a global treatment destination and training site for innovative neurological care.

Innovative treatment options

Minimally invasive trans-sulcal port brain surgery

Performed through a minimally invasive port, this technique goes between the folds (called sulci) of the brain rather than through the substance of the brain (called cortex), designed to preserve the healthy brain tissue that surrounds pathology.

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Our team pioneered an integrated 6-Pillar Approach that coupled existing technologies with novel enhanced technologies creating a systems approach, consisting of:

  1. Personalized Neural Network Planning
  2. Dynamic Navigation
  3. Radial Trans-sulcal Corridor Access
  4. Exoscopic Robotic Optical Visualization
  5. Non-thermal Automated Tissue Resection
  6. Tissue Preservation to drive personalized tissue driven therapeutics.

This integrated surgical approach further evolved to the current Minimally Invasive Parafascicular Approach (MIPS) that our team pioneered and has taught at other institutions around the country.

Expanded endonasal skull base surgery

Dr. Kassam led the team that was responsible for pioneering expanded endonasal skull base surgery — a minimally invasive surgical method that allows surgeons to remove tumors through a patient’s nostrils as natural access points — negating the need for incisions and reducing the complication rate in some instances by tenfold.

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Dr. Kassam’s defining experience over the first decade of globally pioneering the procedure was featured as the cover article of the prestigious Journal of Neurological Surgery.

Dr. Kassam also founded the initial and most widely regarded program in the nation for training other surgeons on this minimally invasive surgical approach, as well as initiating and hosting the first World Congress on Endoscopy of the Skull Base in 2005.

Deep brain (subcortical) below the surface white matter surgery

Also known as Minimally Invasive Parafascicular Surgery (MIPS), Dr. Kassam’s team also pioneered this advanced approach for minimally invasive access to the deep neural network below the brain surface using the original approach, initially termed as the 6-Pillar method, which subsequently evolved into the current MIPS approach.

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This surgical technique is founded on technologies that Dr. Kassam helped pioneer and was the first in the world to translate from innovation labs to direct patient care.

The innovative procedure employs machine-learning systems to map the entire human brain in 15 minutes, a machine-interfaced exoscopic robot arm and the conscious surgery technique to preserve critical brain functions.

Conscious/awake brain surgery

Our team spent two decades pioneering the concept of conscious brain surgery to preserve the most important human brain functions that allow us to be the individuals that we are: cognition and thought.

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Our team’s pursuit of developing personalized road maps of the neural networks below the brain surface using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms, allows us to create personalized approaches for each individual patient protecting the most important functions, such as, memory, thought and consciousness. We have termed this approach conscious surgery.

Conscious surgery is distinct from awake surgery in that patients are able to think and converse throughout the whole procedure rather than being unconscious (sedated) at the start and the end of the procedure as is the case with traditional “awake surgery.” During traditional awake-asleep-awake (AAA) surgery it can be difficult to maintain the patient at a level of consciousness that is needed to monitor critical thought and cognitive function.

With the pioneering of our minimally invasive approaches we can access the regions of the brain using an integrated systems approach using a relatively small incision in a targeted and efficient manner. This limits the time and access requirements minimizing the need for the initial approach related and subsequent closure related sedation. This allows us to focus the procedure on the critical removal portion of the procedure, allowing the patient to be conscious throughout without minimal sedation and comfortable Patients receive a local anesthesia block and minimal doses of other medications to ensure that they remain pain-free and calm throughout the procedure.

By keeping our patients conscious and minimizing sedation, and by engaging their loved ones in the operating room or an OR-gallery experience, we interact with patients and closely monitor their cognition, memory, thoughts and emotions, the very things that make us individuals and determine our quality of life. Without being conscious, there is no other way to monitor these higher order functions that make us each the individuals we are. Dr. Kassam published the first report of conscious surgery of the upper brainstem and third ventricle — both among the most difficult to access in the human brain — using the innovative technology developed by Dr. Kassam and his partners.

Leading and proprietary technology

Brain mapping

Using machine-learning software, Dr. Kassam and his technology partners developed brain-mapping technology capable of creating a complete 3D map of the human brain — personalized for each patient — in 15 minutes or less. Each patient has their own dedicated map built for the procedure. Our dedicated neuroradiologist, who is one of the world’s leading experts in this technology, creates a personalized plan from this data.

Exoscopic robotic visualization

An exoscopic robotic arm is used to create enhanced, tissue-specific visualization, which allows the system to adjust the light spectrum based on the type of tissue (blood vessels, bones, deep neural networks) that is being visualized.

The robotic arm is controlled by a computer machine interface that moves on voice commands and directed by an integrated navigation (GPS) system based on the patient’s individualized neural network map. Dr. Kassam pioneered the first-in-human use of this technology.


Global destination and training site for other physicians

The NorthShore Neurological Institute at Northwest Community Healthcare is an international training destination for other physicians looking to learn the latest technologies, procedures and methodologies, as well as being an innovation destination site for the development of next generation technologies for the technology sector.

Global destination and training site for other physicians