MUSC Health becomes one of handful of hospitals in country with two Icono neuroendovascular suites

June 02, 2022
Tech wearing a mask with his hair covered stretches his arms as he spreads a blue tarp in a new endovascular suite.
Technician Damian Browne prepares the new neuroendovascular suite for a patient on its opening day. The Icono angiography machine is on the left in the background. Photos by Sarah Pack

There was an air of excitement among the surgeons and technicians who treat life-threatening conditions such as aneurysms and strokes as MUSC Health debuted its second Icono neuroendovascular suite.

“We had one Icono installed January 2021, which is the newest iteration of an angiography machine from Siemens. At the time, we were one of five hospitals in the U.S. that had Icono. We were an early adopter of technology. Now, the novelty is that we have our second one in adjoining side-to-side suites,” said neurosurgeon Alejandro Spiotta, M.D.

“So we’re not only the only hospital in the state to have this latest technology, but we're also one of only a handful in the country currently that has more than one.”

David Zaas, M.D., MBA, MUSC Health Chief Clinical Officer 
Dr. David Zaas

David Zaas, M.D., CEO for MUSC Health-Charleston Division, said it will help patients across the state and beyond. “We are really excited about this expansion of innovative technology that will enable our teams to have a greater impact, saving more lives through outstanding clinical care and cutting-edge research.”

The Icono acquisition is part of the Medical University of South Carolina’s partnership with the technology company Siemens Healthineers, which was established five years ago. At the time, leaders of both organizations spoke of their vision of a transformational relationship. Spiotta said the new endovascular suite with the second Icono is a realization of that.

He also summarized the purpose of a neuroendovascular suite. “It’s a highly specialized, high-tech procedure room that's radiation-based for visualization. It's procedure room where we perform critical procedures like aneurysm treatments, stroke, revascularization procedures, some of the most complex, urgent and emergent procedures in the neuro space.”

The Icono is an imaging machine – it lets the medical team see inside the patient without invasive surgery. Spiotta said MUSC Health used an earlier version of the Icono for years, but it was time for an upgrade.

View through a control room window of a surgeon in a new endovascular suite. 
Neurosurgeon Alejandro Spiotta, center right, looks at images generated by the Icono to see if a recent fall caused any dangerous internal injuries for a young woman who's lying on a table out of frame to the left.

“The new Icono offers a lot of different functionalities that allow us to visualize the arteries of the brain in better ways. So we can take care of patients and take care of complex diseases more safely. It's been years in development. They have higher-resolution images at lower radiation doses to both the patient and the staff,” Spiotta said.

“It allows us to take specialized functional images of the brain to determine if an area is salvageable or not. Then, it also interfaces with the new robotics that we use for treating patients, that hold great promise in making procedures safer for and allowing us to perform procedures remotely, from far away, to extend our reach to patients,” Spiotta said.

“In previous generations, if you wanted to get better pictures at critical moments, when you're working with a sub-millimeter vessel, for example, you would have to deliver more radiation to get better pictures. Now you have better pictures to start with at a fraction of the radiation.”

Alejandro Spiotta 
Dr. Alejandro Spiotta

The new device and suite will get plenty of use. Spiotta’s team treats an average of five to 10 patients a day. “We have a fair number of scheduled procedures, like someone with an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured and we're going to treat it to prevent it from rupturing in the future. But then throughout today, we also usually have several emergencies that come in. That's why it's so important to have the second Icono, so if one of them is tied up and we get an emergency, we can go right to the second one.”

Spiotta said MUSC Health’s endovascular team in Florence will also get an Icono this summer to offer cutting-edge care to patients in the Pee Dee region. “Both we and Florence had equipment that was satisfactory to get the job done, but this represents a very heavy investment by our hospital leadership. To me, it just shows that MUSC is committed to providing the best care for our patients in the state.”

Neuroendovascular technician Damian Browne agreed, speaking as he prepared the suite for its third-ever patient on its opening day. “The new suite's fantastic. You know, it allows us to do double the stuff at the same time with state-of-the-art technology. So we kind of continue to lead what we do. It just shows that we willing to go so much farther to make stuff a whole lot better for everybody.”

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