Clinical Trends in Neurosurgery

By Brian T. Asmussen, Director of Neurosurgery Services, Methodist Health System

Neurosurgery is one of the most exciting areas in medicine today. It’s one where technology is driving advanced care and treatment for patients while providing a challenging and fulfilling career path for health care professionals.

Progressive health systems are guided by leading neurosurgeons trained in innovative diagnosis and treatment techniques, and Methodist Health System is among them. Methodist is committed to building a broad interdisciplinary approach to specific patient needs that improve mobility and function, reduce pain, and restore lifestyle. Our team of neurosurgeons provides diagnostics and treatment to treat the entire spectrum of brain and spinal conditions.

Technologically speaking, minimally invasive procedures for the spine are the name of the game. Smaller incisions mean less blood loss, shorter surgeries, quicker recovery times, and shorter hospital stays for patients. In the area of scoliosis, for example, we are now treating patients using a technique called DLIF (direct lateral interbody fusion). With DLIF, surgeons access the spine through a small incision approximately two inches long on the side of the body. With the older technique, patients would have incisions four to five inches long on their backs or abdomen. Since we no longer go through the stomach muscles to access the spine, patients experience an easier recovery and there is less chance for infection.

In terms of bedside care, we’re seeing much greater specialization for clinicians, and there are specialized teams in the operating room and

for treatment. This enables clinicians to provide better care for more unique patient procedures and a targeted team approach in spine care.

Methodist has pioneered diagnosis and treatment for brain and spine conditions since 1978. In 1995, Methodist opened the first neurocritical care unit in North Texas at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Methodist Dallas is one of only three adult trauma centers in the city, and it is the only hospital in the Dallas–Fort Worth area with a dedicated neurointensivist on staff.

On the horizon, we anticipate there will be more algorithms in how we treat back pain. Independently practicing spine surgeons, primary care physicians, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, and pain management physicians at Methodist Dallas have been working on care pathways to help patients receive the most appropriate referrals to the right doctors at the right time. Ultimately, patients will be treated better and faster, with even more positive outcomes.

What sets Methodist apart in the area of neurosurgery?

  1. Attention to quality indicators that tell us how we’re performing and where we need to improve.

  2. A dedicated unit with care teams specializing in neurological disorders.

  3. A designated trauma center that provides care for some of the most complex and challenging cases.

The science of neurosurgery combined with the art of patient care is what makes this such an exciting area in which to be a health care provider. It’s all about great partnerships with physicians, staff members — whose No. 1 priority is the patient, and a collaborative relationship among the entire of team of neurosurgical providers.


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