April 5th, 2001

In 1985, endoscopic sinus surgery shined new light on the country’s most persistent medical condition. Since then, it has become one of the most popular methods for treating sinus problems, but it is limited by what can be seen through the endoscope. A new system recently introduced to Great River Medical Center allows surgeons to see around the corners of the anatomy when the endoscope’s light becomes dark.

“The InstaTrak System is especially beneficial in extensive surgeries for more difficult chronic sinus problems,” said otolaryngologist Douglas Henrich, M.D. “Some parts of the sinuses are very narrow and close to the brain and eyes. InstaTrak allows us to see in any direction with one-millimeter accuracy, providing an extra degree of safety and precision.”

Two other members of the hospital’s medical staff – Dean Lyons, M.D., and Michael Thielman, M.D. – also perform endoscopic sinus surgery using the InstaTrak System.

The InstaTrak software builds a computerized model of the skull anatomy using CT scans taken before the surgery. Patients wear a snug-fitting headset during the CT and also during surgery to align the images with the anatomy. During surgery, the model acts as a three-dimensional roadmap for the surgeon. The tracking system shows images of the surgical instruments as they are used, allowing surgeons to see the exact location of the instruments in direct relation to areas of the skull anatomy that cannot be seen through the endoscope.

The InstaTrak System was approved by the Food and Drug Administration two years ago. It is being used in more than 170 hospitals worldwide.

“There probably aren’t many hospitals our size with this capability,” Dr. Henrich said. “It demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to cutting-edge technology.”