Ask Dr. Nick Wills: How Does An Intraoperative CT Scanner Improve Patient Safety?

The Summit’s Vadnais Heights surgery center is equipped with an intraoperative O-arm® CT scanner. Summit spine surgeon Dr. Nick Wills explains how this equipment improves surgical safety.

O Arm CT Scanner

“Our Summit Vadnais Heights location has been very successful,” says Summit spine surgeon Dr. Nick Wills. “We designed our Vadnais Heights facility to provide the highest quality in medical and surgical care, and we believe our O-arm scanner is integral to that value.”

Benefits of O-arm CT scanner

An intraoperative O-arm CT scanner is a machine that uses imaging technology to provide real-time three-dimensional images during a surgical procedure that support surgical precision. Many Twin Cities hospitals don’t provide these scanners in their operating rooms; the technology is expensive and requires additional investment in equipment training.

“We insisted on an O-arm scanner in our Vadnais Heights surgery center,” states Dr. Wills. “Screws are regularly used in orthopedic surgery, and their placement is critical to surgical outcomes, especially in the spine surgeries that I perform. The gold standard for confirming accurate screw placement is a CT scan. By having an O-arm in the surgery, I can run a CT scan on every surgical patient before they leave the OR. We have very experienced surgeons; most of the time, this extra step just confirms precise screw placement. But this extra step is one more safeguard we can use. Every once in a great while, we do catch something and can correct it before the patient leaves surgery.

Precision in spinal fusion surgery

“When you have a spinal fusion surgery at a Summit surgery center, we take the extra five minutes to run an intraoperative CT scan and ensure that all the screws and the rods and the bone grafts are exactly where we think they are. When you leave the OR, we are as sure as humanly possible that everything is in the right spot.

“We believe that these little things make a big difference in the quality of care we deliver to our patients,” says Dr. Wills. “If you can do something to identify and obviate even a small risk of a complication, wouldn’t you want that? I would want that. At Summit, we want that for our patients. That’s why we insisted on an intraoperative O-arm scanner for our surgery center.”

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