Neurosurgery doctors

Recognizing neurosurgery firsts at UTMB Health’s Clear Lake Campus

Over the past month, UTMB Health’s Clear Lake Campus celebrated two significant firsts at its Bay Area hospital.

On Nov. 11, Dr. Rishi Lall, Director of UTMB’s Neurosurgery Spine program and Associate Program Director for the department, performed the hospital’s first craniotomy for brain tumor removal, and a week later, Dr. Peter Kan, the Robert L. Moody Sr. Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and professor, conducted the first intracranial aneurysm clipping at the campus. Since then, both patients are recovering well from the surgeries.

The surgeries represent an expansion of services offered at the Clear Lake Campus, as the hospital continues to find new and innovative ways to provide world-class treatments to the growing communities it serves.

For neurology and neurosurgical specialties in particular, Kan said the plan is for the Clear Lake hospital to focus on craniotomies for complex tumors and aneurysms, complex spine surgery, minimally invasive neuroendovascular treatments, and stroke-related services.

“We have a wide breadth of neurosurgical expertise at UTMB that is now working at the Clear Lake Campus and doing remarkable work to help our patients,” Kan said.

In the case of the surgery performed by Dr. Lall, the procedure was particularly complex as it involved removing a large tumor from deep within the patient’s brain. It required the use of neuronavigation, a computer-assisted system that allows neurosurgeons to plan the surgery beforehand by developing a 3D map inside the patient’s brain.

“Once the surgery is underway, this 3D navigation system ensures our instruments and the microscope we’re using are focused on the precisely correct point in the patient’s brain so we can effectively and safely remove these lesions,” Lall said.

Technological advances continue to help neurosurgeons with more precision and refinement in their surgeries, and the Clear Lake Campus is especially suited for treating these complex cases, Lall said.

“We’re very fortunate to have an ultra, state-of-the-art 3D navigation system at this hospital that’s now been combined with a brand-new microscope that features the rare technology to coincide, collaborate and interface with the navigation system,” he said. “These are cutting-edge tools that are available right here on this campus and that are making a difference in saving the lives of our patients.”

When UTMB opened the Clear Lake Campus last year to serve the growing, diverse and vibrant Bay Area community, it brought a top-notch academic medical center to the area, enabling patients dealing with the most complex health problems to get their care close to home.

“I think neuroscience is a big part of that because, even within medicine, it’s considered one of the most complex and high-risk fields,” Lall said. “Everybody understands that brain surgery is about as high-risk and high-reward as it gets. Truly, it is the difference between a life lost and a life saved at times, and that’s not always true of everything we do in medicine. To be able to say that we can do that right here in Clear Lake at the highest level is pretty special, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Lall added that the key to providing exemplary care to patients is UTMB’s ability to assemble exceptional teams—from the operating room staff to nurses to anesthesiologists and administrators—and couple that with techniques and technology that is unique in the region.

“We are doing things in less-invasive ways, in more motion-preserving ways, and that is really changing lives for the better,” he said.