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Neurosurgery Honored for Excellence in Care

Monday, December 19, 2016


The Rochester Neurosurgery Partners Team

UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital has been recognized by Becker's Hospital Review in its 2016 list of 100 Hospital and Health Systems with Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs. This is the third consecutive year that the department has received this honor.

The list features hospitals and health systems that are “national forerunners in neuroscience, providing treatment for patients suffering from various conditions and injuries pertaining to the brain and spine.”

“This recognition is a testament to the dedication and excellence of our faculty, nurses, and staff and their commitment to provide the highest level of care to patients in our region,” said Webster Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., the Ernest & Thelma Del Monte Distinguished Professor of Neuromedicine and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Strong Memorial Hospital is a designated Blue Distinction Center+ for Spine Surgery and is the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, as designated by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The hospital is also home to the area’s only dedicated 24/7 Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit.

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Creating the “Model Human” to Practice Surgery

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) have developed a new way to fabricate artificial organs and human anatomy that mimics the real thing, even up to the point of bleeding when cut. These models are able to create highly realistic simulations for training and could soon be widely used to rehearse complex cases prior to surgery.

The program, which the creators have dubbed Simulated Inanimate Model for a Physical Learning Experience, or SIMPLE, is the brainchild of Ahmed Ghazi, M.D., M.Sc., an assistant professor in the Department of Urology, and Jonathan Stone, M.D., a Neurosurgery resident who also holds a degree in biomedical engineering. The process entails converting images obtained from medical scans into computer generated designs and, through the assistance of 3D printing, fabricating lifelike organs that can be poked, prodded, and dissected.

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New Grants Explore Role of Brain’s “Garbage Truck” in Mini-Stokes and Trauma

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Photo of Dr. Nedergaard

Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc.

More than $4.5 million in new grants to the lab of University of Rochester Medical Center scientist Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., underscore the important role the brain’s waste disposal system may play in a range of neurological disorders. The new awards will advance understanding of how small vessel disease and traumatic brain injury can give rise to cognitive and behavioral problems.

Nedergaard and her colleagues first unveiled the brain’s unique method of removing waste – dubbed the glymphatic system – in a paper in Science Translational Medicine in 2012. The research revealed that the brain possesses a circulation network that piggybacks on blood vessels and uses cerebral spinal fluid to flush away waste products from brain tissue. Since that time, the team has gone on to show that the glymphatic system works primarily while we sleep, could be a key player in diseases like Alzheimer’s, and is disrupted after traumatic brain injury.

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Neurosurgeon Bhalla Joins Stroke Team

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

photo of Bhalla Tarun

Tarun Bhalla, M.D., Ph.D., has been named director of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Services in the Department of Neurosurgery and director of Inpatient Stroke and Cerebrovascular Services at UR Medicine. Bhalla, who was also appointed assistant professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Imaging Sciences, began his position on August 1, 2016.

“Dr. Bhalla is a tremendously skilled endovascular neurosurgeon who will build upon an already strong foundation of stroke and cerebrovascular services and help guide efforts to expand and improve care across the region,” said Web Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “We are delighted that he has agreed to join the Medical Center and our team.”

“I am honored to join UR Medicine and look forward to contributing to a team of providers that is already providing the highest level of care for victims of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases,” said Bhalla. “In stroke, time is brain, so we need to continue to focus on new ways to accelerate the process of getting patients to where they need to be and receiving the level of care necessary to achieve good outcomes.”

Bhalla joins URMC from Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA where he served for three years as the director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and did his residency training, as well as a fellowship in surgical endovascular neuroradiology, at the Cleveland Clinic. His specialties include cerebrovascular and endovascular treatment for stroke, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), carotid/vertebral artery disease, and a chronic facial pain called trigeminal neuralgia.

Bhalla will join the UR Medicine’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. Strong Memorial Hospital is the only institution in the region designated by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. His appointment will expand the Center’s team of endovascular surgeons. In recent years, stroke care undergone a shift in care with studies showing that endovascular procedures – during which surgeons remove clots in the brain via a catheter fed through blood vessels – may result in better outcomes for some patients compared to care involving only clot busting drugs.

His appointment comes on the heels of several new investments in stroke and cerebrovascular care at Strong Memorial Hospital, including a new Hybrid Operating Room and Angio Suite designed to offer minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures, a new surgical technology to treat hemorrhages deep inside the brain, and a dedicated Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit.

Bhalla will help lead efforts to expand stroke care, including working with community providers and emergency medical technicians to diagnose and potentially begin treatment for stroke patients before they reach the hospital.

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UR Medicine Gets Top Honors for Cardiac, Stroke Programs

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

image of the American Heart Association Stroke Guidelines

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has once again honored UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital with its highest awards for heart failure, stroke and resuscitation care. Strong Memorial is the only Rochester-area hospital to earn the highest levels of recognition for these categories of care.

Strong Memorial earned Get With the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Plus and Target Heart Failure Honor Roll Award, Stroke Gold Plus and Target Elite Plus Honor Roll Award and Resuscitation Gold Award in the AHA/ASA’s hospital-based quality improvement program.

Each year in the U.S., approximately 735,000 people suffer heart attacks, 5.7 million people endure heart failure and nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The GWTG program is designed to measure outcomes and adherence to treatment guidelines to ensure high quality care at hospitals across the nation.

“We strive to provide the most comprehensive, leading-edge care for our patients,” said neurologist Curtis G. Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center. “This award acknowledges the commitment of many individuals to the goals of advancing acute stroke care and improving stroke prevention.”

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No Joke: N.J. Hospital Uses Laughing Gas To Cut Down On Opioid Use

Friday, April 1, 2016

There's a new tool for battling the opioid epidemic, compressed inside long, metal tanks at an emergency room in Paterson, N.J.

It's laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide.

If you think this is a joke, spend a few hours with Alexis LaPietra, medical director of pain management at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center's emergency department. She's developed an opioid-alternative program that's trying out unusual ways to help patients through their pain without using prescription painkillers in the ER, where the road to addiction began for many patients.

"The point here is not to be for or against opioids any more than it makes sense to be for or against antibiotics," says John Markman, a neurologist at the University of Rochester who specializes in pain management.

He says any ER's pain management program still has to keep opioids as an option.

"The goal is to learn to use them skillfully to minimize the public health risks because the public health risks are significant," says Markman, who's conducted research on opioids, some of which was funded by pharmaceutical companies. "There are many patients in the right context and in the right hands who can benefit."

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Hope, Hype, and Wishful Thinking

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dr. Goldman

In a perspective piece appearing in the journal Cell Stem Cell, URMC neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lays out the current state of affairs with respect to stem cell medicine and how close we are to new therapies for neurological disorders.

The dawn of stem cell medicine some 25 years ago was greeted with great enthusiasm, particularly by scientists who study diseases in the central nervous system (CNS).  Many of the diseases found in the brain and spinal cord are degenerative in nature; meaning that over time populations of cells are lost due to genetic factors, infection, or injury.  Because stem cell medicine holds the potential to repair or replace damaged or destroyed cells, scientists have considered these diseases as promising candidates for new therapies.

However, as with other emerging fields of medicine, the race to cures has turned out to be more of marathon than a sprint.  While scientists have become very adept at manipulating stem and progenitor cells and understanding the complex choreography of genetic and chemical signals that instruct these cells to divide, differentiate, and proliferate, researchers are still grappling with the challenges of how to integrate new cells into the complex network of connections that comprise the human brain.

Goldman, co-director of the URMC Center for Translational Neuromedicine, takes a sweeping view of where we stand and which CNS diseases may or may not ultimately benefit from future stem cell-based therapies.

Read More: Hope, Hype, and Wishful Thinking