Bangkok, Thailand (PressExposure) February 18, 2009 -- (Syndacast) Singapore has taken the lead in medical innovation in the Asia-Pacific region with the introduction of a predictive computer system that virtually promises 100 percent accuracy in the difficult area of facial reconstruction surgery.
The National University Hospital (NUH), a leading teaching and research hospital in Singapore, has performed more than 250 cranio-maxillofacial surgeries (CMF) since the introduction of BrainLAB's iPlan cranial software program about two years ago.
To date, NUH remains the only medical center in the region that has invested in this technology.
The field of cranio-maxillofacial surgery involves the correction of congenital and acquired deformities of the skull and face. Due to the complex nature of the craniofacial skeleton, this type of surgery usually requires extensive pre-surgical planning.
In the United States each year, a significant number of patients undergo reconstruction for these types of operations.
In an age of advanced medical technologies, it is almost inconceivable that major surgeries are performed without a high degree of precision. Yet, until recently and even now in some developed countries, CMF surgeries entail a disturbing amount of guess work on the surgeon's part,Ã¢â¬Â says Associate Professor Lim Thiam Chye, Head of the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at NUH.
In the hands of an experienced surgeon, the predictive pre-planning software offers total and complete precision in mapping out reconstruction work, giving a perfect fit regardless of how bad the structural damage.
This system really helps in very bad cases, such as traffic accidents, where the facial bones are all smashed up, for example. In such cases, the surgeon has to piece together all the bits. Without a predictive system, this is a tedious process to say the least,Ã¢â¬Â explains A/P Lim, who also teaches at the National University of Singapore.
With BrainLAB's navigation device, surgeons can perform 'virtual surgery' and create a three-dimensional prediction of a patient's surgical outcomes as if they are performing surgeries in the operating theater.
The system locks in each piece of bone into place and with an infra-red beam, guides the surgeon in precisely where the reconstruction is needed. It totally takes away the guesswork and this completely cuts out the need for repeat operations,Ã¢â¬Â says A/P Lim.
Getting the contours right on first try isn't easy. In the past, about 10 percent Ã¢â¬â or one in every 10 patients Ã¢â¬â would need a second, corrective operation following the first to adjust facial bones that were not quite in the right place. Such repeat surgeries often lead to more scarring and add to the patient's trauma.
So far, with BrainLAB, we've had zero repeats. That's the beauty of this technology Ã¢â¬â it might involve a greater investment, but the better outcome it provides simply cannot be questioned,Ã¢â¬Â says A/P Lim. The predictive system had cost half a million dollars.
According to him, CMF procedures have to be executed thoroughly in order to achieve the best functional as well as an optimal aesthetic rehabilitation.
Facial reconstruction is a 2-step process. First, you've got to puzzle fit the bones together. It's like building a new house from ground up. Only when you get the foundations right can you build up the rest of it. If the facial bones are not well fitted, the rest of the face Ã¢â¬â tissues and muscles Ã¢â¬â will not come out right, too,Ã¢â¬Â he explains.
The time need for the surgery is also drastically less with this system - most patients would only need to spend half or even a quarter of the time on the surgical table, which in turn reduces the amount of risk attached to all surgeries.
This is the future of medicine. We must embrace new medical technologies instead of being suspicious of it. If it benefits our patients, we must have it,Ã¢â¬Â says A/P Lim.
About the NUH Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center
The NUH Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center is a one-stop clinic providing comprehensive and customized aesthetics and medical treatments for patients suffering from any medical or surgical conditions affecting the face and body. The Center seeks to help individuals find solutions for their cosmetic concerns using surgical or non-invasive surgical methods.
About the National University Hospital (NUH)
NUH is a specialist hospital that provides advanced, leading-edge medical care. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities as well as dedicated and well-trained staff, NUH is a major referral center that delivers tertiary care for a wide range of medical specialties. In 2004, NUH became the first Singapore hospital to receive accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI), an international stamp for excellent clinical practices in patient care and safety. It was also the first hospital in Singapore to receive a triple ISO certification concurrently for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems (www.nuh.com.sg)
Launched in 2003, SingaporeMedicine is a multi-agency government-industry partnership committed to strengthening Singapore's position as Asia's leading medical hub and international health care destination. Led by the Ministry of Health of Singapore, SingaporeMedicine is supported by three government agencies: the Economic Development Board, which develops industry capabilities, the International Enterprise Singapore, which fosters regionalism by Singapore-based health care players, and the Singapore Tourism Board, which markets Singapore as a healthcare destination to inbound international patients and develops associated people-oriented services( www.singaporemedicine.com)