After becoming certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center in 2019, Lutheran Medical Center has continued to expand the neurosciences program and now offers a broad range of advanced neurosurgery services.
Sara Minott, MHA, RN, Director of the Neurosciences Service Line, notes that Lutheran spent years procuring the technology and establishing the infrastructure for the neurosurgery program. “We now have a dedicated neuro-angiographic suite, a dedicated neurosurgical operating room and a 12-bed neurocritical care unit,” she says. “This gives us the ability to manage any kind of stroke, treat traumatic brain or spine injuries, and perform neurological cancer surgeries.”
Enhancing the neurosurgery program will enable Lutheran to apply for the designation of Level II Trauma Center (the hospital is currently a Level III Trauma Center).
Steven Brown, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Lutheran, notes that the neuroscience program includes neuroradiologists, who specialize in brain imaging; neurointerventionalists, who perform catheter-based treatments for stroke; and a team of specialized nurses and inpatient rehabilitation staff.
“With the arrival of two board-certified neurosurgeons, Adam Smith, MD, and Mark Magner, MD, Lutheran is now able to offer emergency procedures such as surgical interventions for stroke and hematomas (pooling of the blood under the skull or within brain tissue),” Dr. Brown says. “Our neurosurgeons also perform elective procedures to treat complex and chronic conditions.”
Breakthrough in Brain Surgery
One of these conditions is glioblastoma, one of the most common and deadly types of brain tumors. Dr. Magner performs fluorescence-guided brain surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible while leaving healthy brain tissue intact.
Before the procedure, the patient drinks a solution that causes healthy brain tissue to appear blue and the tumor to appear pink when viewed under a special microscope filter. “The fluorescence enables me to be more aggressive and precise during the surgery and remove the main tumor mass as well as any tentacle-like projections that extend into adjacent tissue,” Dr. Magner says. “This increases the chances of recovery and survival.”
Minimally Invasive Brain and Spine Surgery
Traditional spine surgery to relieve back pain involves making large incisions and cutting muscles from the spine, which damages the muscles and can lead to a long recovery, blood loss and more pain. Dr. Smith offers minimally invasive spine procedures that involve making smaller incisions and inserting tubular retractors that gently separate the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting them. Working through the retractor, Dr. Smith removes bone and disc material to relieve pressure on the nerves. He’s one of the few surgeons in Denver offering these tubular procedures. He can also use a similar but different type of tubular retractor for some brain tumors or brain hemorrhages.
“Minimally invasive spine and brain surgery through tubular retractors, when indicated, is consistently being proven around the country to be more advantageous than traditional surgeries,” Dr. Smith says. “I hope to be at the lead in bringing this option to Denver.”
Whether you’re affected by headaches and back pain or have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or another neurological condition, you’ll find help at Lutheran for all your needs. We offer specialized care near you. Learn more at scl.health/journal-neuro.