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June 12, 2014 - New Imaging Tools Produce Fantastic Outcomes (Part II)

This article is second in a two-part series about the sophisticated technology in our radiology department that gives University of South Alabama (USA) diagnosticians the ability to see in ever-greater detail inside the human body. Check out the first article, which is about the dynamic views that our 3T MRI machine gives physicians.

In the 1960s movie, “Fantastic Voyage,” a miniaturized crew attempts to save a patient by entering their body to remove a blood clot. As they travel through the blood vessels in a submarine, they are provided with an intimate view of the inner workings of the human body.

While not at the Fantastic Voyage stage yet, sophisticated technology from the department of radiology at the University of South Alabama Medical Center is giving diagnosticians the ability to see in ever-greater detail inside the human body. The 3T MRI and biplane X-ray machines are unique to Mobile, and they have dramatically enhanced the department’s imaging capabilities, producing results that could be considered fantastic.

For radiologists, the equipment provides greater diagnostic tools, and for surgeons, more dynamic views while performing interventional procedures. The end result is more accurate and timely patient-centered care.

Biplane provides life-saving care


The biplane neuro X-ray system at the University of South Alabama Medical Center.

The biplane neuro X-ray system has opened doors to some remarkable new procedures at USA Medical Center. Used for both diagnostic exams and neurovascular interventions, the biplane enables a physician to see two views of their subject at the same time.

According to Dr. Steve Cordina, an interventional neurologist and the medical director for the USA Stroke Center, “The extra plane gives you a more dynamic view and helps you identify danger spots.”

The biplane also decreases procedure and radiation time, which increases patient safety.

Aided by a large computer screen, the biplane operates in similar fashion to a heart cath lab, providing real-time x-ray images during a medical intervention. Physicians are able to perform a larger variety of procedures using the machine, including stroke and aneurysm treatments, stenting and angioplasty, tumor embolizations as well as spinal procedures like kyphoplasty."


Dr. Steve Cordina, assistant professor of neurology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

“A year ago, we would have had to turn away or refer some neurological patients to Birmingham or New Orleans. Now, because of the biplane, we can see everyone here,” said Dr. Cordina.

That certainly would have been the case with one of his most recent patients, an infant twin born with an extremely rare condition. When Carley Staehling was delivered at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, it was discovered she had a “vein of Galen” malformation in her brain. The condition occurs when veins and arteries in the brain form a direct connection with each other during early prenatal development, resulting in a vascular lesion called an arteriovenous malformation.

If left untreated, it can lead to multiple organ failure, severe development disabilities, seizures or even death.

Naturally, the baby’s parents were terrified. But Dr. Cordina and the medical team convinced them the condition could be corrected using the new biplane equipment.

Dr. Cordina was able to perform three corrective procedures in which he embolized, or blocked, blood vessels feeding the malformation in the baby’s brain. Over the course of Carley’s treatment, Dr. Cordina and his team were able to successfully decrease the blood flow from six blood vessels, which clotted off at the malformation and effectively cured the patient. Today, the little girl is a happy, healthy child.

The surgery was unprecedented in the Gulf Coast region.

“I was very happy with the outcome of this procedure and with our ability to bring this level of care to Mobile,” said Dr. Cordina.

Read the first article in this series about the sophisticated radiology equipment that's giving our physicians the ability to spot things in the human body that are no larger than a pinhead.

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