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Rwandan neurosurgery ops go high-tech

Medics monitor the screen while performing a minimally invasive neurosurgery operation at Kacyiru Hospital. This was a simulation exercise while the real surgery is expected to take place on Thursday. Courtesy.

Medics in Rwanda are working on scaling up the use of minimally invasive neurosurgery operations that don’t require them to open the patient’s skull while treating tumors in the brain and the skull base.

The method dubbed “endoscopic nasal surgery” uses flexible tubes with a light and camera attached to them that are inserted into a patient’s nose, enabling the doctors to carry out the surgical procedure without having to dissect the head.

This method (endoscopy) enables doctors to view pictures of the inside of the patient’s body on a colour TV monitor.

From Monday to Thursday this week, the Rwanda Neurosurgical Centre in collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery at Lariboisière Hospital from France conducted a neuro-anatomy course and live endoscopic skull base surgery, a training which is said to be the first of a kind in the region.

According to Dr. Emmy Nkusi the Head of Rwanda Neurosurgical Centre and president of the Rwanda Association of Neurological Surgeons, this is not the first time that such a surgical procedure has been used in Rwanda, though it has been rare since endoscopic technology has not been widespread in the medical sector.

Speaking about the advantages of the method, Nkusi said that it reduces the time that a patient takes to recover, and it leaves no scar on their head,

“The recovery is quicker because there is no wound on the head since surgery has been done through the nose. I cannot specify the time it takes for a patient to heal when this procedure is used, but it may reduce up to 2 weeks of the healing time,” he said.

He however said that not all brain tumors can be treated in this way.

“People should not think that we can use this method on all brain tumors. There are some that we need to operate in another way,” he said.

On Thursday, according to Nkusi, a few patients will be operated on using this method.

The 3-day course is a pilot project that is part of a long-term collaboration with the France-based Research Institute against Digestive Cancer (IRCAD) for conducting anatomy and other simulation courses of international participation.

Such courses are aimed at improving patient’s surgical outcome by obtaining enhanced and more accurate understanding of human anatomy and established neurosurgical procedures as well as research and development of new neurosurgical approaches.

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