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Hoag Becomes One of the First Hospitals in the Nation to Offer Minimally-Invasive Robotic Surgery for Epilepsy

Categories: Press Room

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., March 9, 2020 --- The Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag became one of the first hospitals in the nation to obtain and use the Medtronic Stealth Autoguide Robotic Platform to treat epileptic seizures and the first hospital in the world to perform minimally invasive brain biopsy using this technology.

The highly advanced surgical tool replaces open cranial surgery for certain patients and greatly increases accuracy and patient recovery, said David Millett, M.D., Ph.D., the Epilepsy Program’s director. The device can be used for a range of neurological conditions that require precision guidance for placement of diagnostic electrodes, biopsy or targeted laser ablation.

“This tool cuts the time it takes to do a procedure by 80 to 90 percent, and because the incision is so much smaller, the pain and infection rates are almost zero,” said Dr. Millett. “The tool is also much more accurate, making surgery safer and reducing risk significantly.”

The Stealth Autoguide Robot uses a small pinpoint hole through which neurosurgeons can place electrodes or biopsy needles precisely in the brain to diagnose or treat epilepsy, cancer or other neurological conditions. Without this tool, these procedures typically involve shaving large portions of the scalp, making larger incisions and removing pieces of skull to expose the brain for surgery.

“A lot of people are scared of surgery. In epilepsy, if it’s a choice between medication and surgery, there can be some hesitation. But if the surgeries can be minimally invasive with a quick recovery, it could help more people live seizure-free,” said Hoag neurosurgeon Vik Mehta, M.D. “And on the oncology side, some tumors are in deep locations of the brain and require a craniotomy to diagnose or treat. It is a huge surgery that can destroy lots of healthy brain tissue. But with this technique, we don’t have to destroy normal tissue, and we don’t have to open the skull. I think in the future, these highly targeted, minimally invasive approaches will be the standard of care.”

Thanks to a generous donation by philanthropists Nancy and Bill Thompson, Hoag is one of only four hospitals in the country that offer this technology. When Hoag deployed the device, everyone from neurosurgeons to the nurses to the rest of the medical staff in the OR trained extensively to perform these specialized procedures.

The Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag has been recognized as one of the best in the nation by U.S. World & News Report and by Becker’s Hospital Review. Dr. Mehta credits the Institute’s success, in part, with the hospital’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological innovation.

“At Hoag, we have the full spectrum of treatment options, from laser ablation to robotics to open surgery and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. There is nothing out there that’s not available here,” Dr. Mehta said. “This just adds one more treatment option for our patients.”


Delivering a personalized, integrated approach using best-practice guidelines, the most advanced technology, and integration of medical specialists in the most appropriate facilities, the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute (PFNI) at Hoag provides the highest quality care for patients with brain and spine disorders including stroke, aneurysms and vascular malformations, brain tumors, epilepsy, movement disorders, memory and cognitive disorders, pain, minimally invasive spine surgery, multiple sclerosis, addiction medicine and sleep disorders, as well as the mind-body interface of behavioral health. Several of Hoag’s PFNI programs have received high acclaim, including the stroke program, which was the first hospital in Orange County and the second in California to be named a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center by DNV GL Healthcare. It was awarded the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement for stroke care. And as one of the first centers in the U.S. to offer the most advanced radiosurgical treatment system available, Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™, the PFNI brain tumor program is the largest in Orange County and is also among the top volume programs in the western United States. Hoag has been recognized as a designated Level 4 Comprehensive Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. The PFNI’s memory and cognitive disorders program is nationally recognized.


Hoag is an approximately $1 billion nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 30,000 inpatients and 480,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals – Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which opened in 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010 – in addition to nine health centers and 13 urgent care centers. Hoag is a designated Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute, which consists of an orthopedic hospital and two ambulatory surgical centers. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the 2019 - 2020 U.S. News & World Report. For an unprecedented 23 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.

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