St. Mary Medical Center is pleased to announce that its Neurophysiology Intraoperative Monitoring Laboratory has received a five-year accreditation from the Laboratory Accreditation Board–Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring (LAB–NIOM) of the American Board of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET). St. Mary currently is one of only eleven U.S. providers, and the only healthcare provider in Pennsylvania to have earned this quality distinction from the ABRET national credentialing organization.
Intraoperative neurophysiology monitoring (IONM), sometimes referred to as surgical neurophysiology is a relatively new and growing field of healthcare that is fast becoming a standard of care for its potential to improve outcomes for surgical patients. St. Mary’s Neurophysiology Intraoperative Monitoring Laboratory provides real-time monitoring of a patient’s neurological status during spinal, nerve, and brain surgeries. The neurophysiologist is an integral part of the surgical team, and works closely with the anesthesiologist and surgeon. The neurophysiologist performs continually testing and monitoring of the nervous system during surgery to assist surgeons in reducing complications, such as paralysis, hearing or vision loss, or stroke, by detecting potential injury to the brain in time to prevent or minimize it.
The ABRET accreditation is a rigorous voluntary review process that ensures intraoperative monitoring at St. Mary meets all the established standards and guidelines of quality care and patient safety. The policy and procedures in place and the professionalism and credentials of the Neurophysiology Department support that the highest quality of care is being provided.
“Everyone in the Neurophysiology Department diligently worked together to establish policies and procedures at St. Mary that meet the highest standards of patient care. All of our technologists are certified and highly experienced, and have access to the most up-to-date information and equipment.” says Myra Gonzalez, St. Mary Chief Neurophysiology Technologist. “Our surgeons have the utmost confidence that they are working with some of the best technologists in the field.”
And surgeons do prefer the advantages that NIOM or neuromonitoring can offer in providing better patient outcomes. “The Intraoperative Neurophysiology Service at St Mary Medical Center is one of the main reasons I bring patients to this hospital. I know that my patients are in a safer position during surgery and, ultimately with a better outcome, due to the guidance that this cutting-edge service provides. By monitoring in real-time, the integrity of the brain and spinal cord during surgery, patients are directly placed in a safer, more efficient environment,” says Neurosurgeon Dr. Nirav Shah. “I know that if I were a patient, I would want this technology to assure that my nervous system remains intact during the rigors of surgery. I am proud of the St Mary Intraoperative Neurophysiology Department’s recognition. Especially in brain and spinal surgery, where there is heightened patient anxiety, one can take solace in the fact that St Mary Medical Center is bringing world-class technology to promote healthier outcomes.”
NIOM or neuromonitoring is performed by a trained and certified technologist using advanced-technology computerized equipment specifically designed to perform nerve monitoring. Small, non-invasive electrodes connected to the NIOM computerized system are placed over nerve or muscle areas of the body. The computer gently stimulates the nerves in one area and records the signals that are generated in another area, continuously informing the neurophysiologist of how fast the nerves are carrying signals and how strong those signals are during the course of the surgery.
The neurophysiologist can thus observe and document the electrophysiologic signals in real time throughout the surgery. As these signals also can change according to a various factors, including anesthesia, temperature, surgical stage, and tissue stresses, differentiating the electrophysiologic signal changes is the collaborative task of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and neurophysiologist.
Patients who benefit from neuromonitoring are those undergoing operations involving the central or peripheral nervous system. Most neuromonitoring is utilized by spine surgeons or neurosurgeons, but vascular, orthopedic, otolarygologists and urology surgeons have all utilized neuromonitoring if a surgery poses risk to the central nervous system or to a peripheral nerve.
The national accreditation adds another level of safety and quality care to surgeries performed at St. Mary. “With this accreditation of our intraoperative monitoring service – one of only eleven facilities nationwide – we can assure our surgeons and their patients of our proven ability to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art neurophysiolocial monitoring to help protect vital tissues and functioning during the most complex surgical procedures involving the brain, spine and nerves that are performed here at St. Mary,” says Dr. James Gaul, Neurologist, and Medical Director of Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring at St. Mary.
St. Mary Medical Center has earned numerous distinctions for the quality of the care we provide; most recently, in the areas of cardiovascular services and medical imaging. This is the second ABRET accreditation for our Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory. The St. Mary Electroencephalography Laboratory earned accreditation in 2009.