LIKE A DRIVER USING GPS in an unfamiliar landscape, surgeons at the newest operating suite in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital use a variety of sophisticated imaging systems to navigate a patient’s complicated anatomy.
This groundbreaking clinical center, called the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating suite, or AMIGO, is the brainchild of Dr. Ferenc Jolesz. It combines in a single location the most advanced imaging technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging, X-ray computed tomography, and ultrasound.
In this futuristic setup, radiologists and surgeons move through sliding doors that connect three sterile chambers. A 33,000-pound MRI and other machines glide from one room to another so surgeons can match the most effective technology to different procedures. Watching a virtual model of the patient, doctors can pinpoint the position of their instruments. “Three-dimensional images that represent both anatomy and the disease complement what the physicians themselves see,’’ Jolesz said.
AMIGO, which opened last year, has hosted more than 100 procedures, including brain surgery, cryosurgery, and cancer radiation therapy. The facility took almost a decade to develop, Jolesz said, and required substantial assistance from the National Institutes of Health.
Jolesz, 66, wants to prove that patients have fewer complications and heal faster if surgery is complemented with imaging. He believes the clinical data gathered with AMIGO will help develop new approaches to medical interventions.
“If you have imagination,’’ he said, “you can think about new ways to approach problems.’’