The Technology We Use
The Operating Microscope
An operating microscope is an important piece of technology in VNOC’s operating room. The operating microscope provides superior visualization and illumination of microvascular and neuroanatomical structures as compared to operating with the naked eye or loupes. This is critical when operating on very small patients and around very vital structures such as the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Dr. McDonnell believes that this allows for safer neurosurgery and faster recovery times.
The operating microscope is also very helpful when performing a more routine neurosurgery such as a ventral slot for a disc herniation in a small dog. The width of the slot in a small dog is typically 3-4 mm making visualization crucial to a successful surgery.
The operating microscope allows the neurosurgeon to perform microsurgery on structures such as the dura mater, cerebral cortex and spinal cord, which is typically smaller than a pencil in most dogs and cats. The additional magnification (up to 25x) is very helpful when operating on dogs with an arachnoid diverticulum (“subarachnoid cyst”). This is a video of a Pug’s spinal cord where the dura mater has been incised in preparation for suturing the dura to preplaced screws in the vertebral bodies (dorsal marsupialization). This is done to decrease the risk for recurrence of fibrous bands that form over the spinal cord causing spinal cord compression.
An added benefit of using the operating microscope is that it allows us to project the surgery “live” on an HD screen so that visiting veterinarians, veterinary students, and veterinary residents can actually see what goes on during neurosurgery. This technology allows us to capture the videos that are included in this article.
Photo at top: Utilizing the operating microscope during surgery. Notice the MRI images in the background which are used to guide intraoperative decisions.
Left: The surgery can be projected on a screen so that others in the OR, such as students, externs, residents and visiting veterinarians, can see the surgery. On the screen: ventral slot surgery.