BrightMatter brings better outcomes for brain surgery patients

Parkview Health is the first in the region to adopt new technology that is transforming the way brain and spine surgery is performed. Synaptive Medical’s BrightMatter™ Guide uses robotic imaging to process whole brain tractography (3D modeling), allowing surgeons to see details that can’t be seen with the naked eye and gain access to brain locations previously deemed inoperable.

Jason Voorhies, MD, Parkview Physicians Group – Neurosurgery, has performed 15 procedures using BrightMatter. “This technology allows us to find the safest route to access and remove brain tumors and hemorrhages,” Voorhies said. “Until now, we have not had the ability to accurately navigate the critical white matter tracts of the brain. This tool gives us the least invasive, least disruptive map to brain pathology.”

Prior to implementing BrightMatter, surgeons typically took the shortest route to specific brain locations, which may impact critical portions of the brain that control motor skills, speech or other important nerve fibers. 

“Now, instead of taking the shortest route, we are able to take the safest route,” Voorhies said. “By avoiding those critical brain tracts, we can conduct surgery with greater accuracy, leading to faster recovery times and reduced complications and rehabilitation. In some cases, we’re even able to render an inoperable diagnosis operable.”


A second chance.

Julie VanLue, who happens to be Voorhies’ elementary school music teacher, was one of those cases.

“I thought his name was familiar,” Julie said, “but I thought it was because he had also been a member of my church. Then I called one of the teachers from the school and she remembered. My sister also knew his mother, so he had plenty of warning about me.”

In 2016, Julie learned she had melanoma in her lung and brain. She underwent immunotherapy for her lung and radiation in her brain using CyberKnife. In January 2018, she learned her brain tumor had grown, but CyberKnife would not be as effective the second time around. She needed to undergo brain surgery to remove the tumor.

Using BrightMatter, Voorhies was able to navigate to the precise location of the brain where her tumor existed and remove it using only a small incision and skull opening. Following surgery, her recovery consisted of just two days in the hospital. 

“I had somebody come stay with me for the week following the procedure, but I eventually just sent her home. I was driving again two weeks later.”

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