Excellence in neurosurgical care, education and research

Our approach to patient care, research and education is based on the excellence, commitment and dedication of all members of our multidisciplinary neurosurgical team and our partners.

The divisions of Neurosurgery, Neurology and Orthopaedic Surgery (Spine Program) have been working to establish an Atlantic Canadian Academic Neuroscience Program. This new program will allow implementation of a collaborative best practice model, giving patients the most comprehensive care in Atlantic Canada, including prevention, intervention, long-term management, outreach and links to community providers.

The Neurosurgery Residency Training Program at Dalhousie is designed to develop skilled neurosurgeons in the clinical care of neurosurgical patients. Our residents are exposed to a broad range of technical problem-solving and decision-making aspects of neurosurgery over a six-year period.

Our division is an internationally recognized leader in spinal cord circuitry and response to trauma research, injury prevention and technology-based innovations in neurosurgical education. Our basic and clinical research programs attract millions of dollars for research and neurosurgical infrastructure. We believe that research and innovation ultimately lead to better patient care.

Our areas of subspecialty include:

  • Neurosurgery spine
  • Neurotrauama
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuromodulation
  • Cerebrovascular
  • Pediatrics

Commitment to Innovation

OR Lights

2015-16 saw a big change in the look and function of our Neurosurgery OR's. A state-of-the-art lighting and visualization system was installed. The system consists of the latest in LED lighting technology for a more consistent, brighter light with minimal shadowing. HD Cameras are located in the light handle and on an independent articulating arm in OR13. Boom mounted monitors are integrated into a video switching system that allows us to receive and send signals from any surgical video display device such as a microscope or C-Arm, as well as our hospital PACS imaging system. These video and camera inputs can be recorded to a video and still capture system. This setup provides for a less cluttered and more effective operative space as well as providing better visualization for training surgical residents.

Virtual Reality (VR) Lab

The Virtual Reality Lab was renovated with improved lighting and customizable workspaces. PeriopSim applications have been the main focus in the VR lab. In parallel to the IOS focused PeriopSim we are developing a 3D version using the Occulus VR headset and STEM controllers for a full VR immersive environment. The project is being headed by Conquer Mobile in conjunction with Sixense, the developers of the STEM controllers. Initial funding for these projects was provided though a ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP) grant.

The NeuroTouch is a virtual reality surgery simulator designed to train residents and hone the skills of experienced surgeons. As part of our Residency Training Program, we continue to develop and evaluate surgical scenarios.

Imaging and Image Guided Surgery

 We continue to investigate fMRI and have included MEG functional maps, merged with MR and PET on the OR Image Guided work stations. These maps allow better localization for intra-operative mapping and resection for both tumour and epilepsy surgeries.

To supplement our image guidance with MR, CT and PET;  DTI scans are loaded into the StealthViz  software application (Medtronic Navigation, Louisville, CO) for fiber tracking to better understand the connecting pathways. These tracks are overlaid on various merged image sequences that can –then be used for intra-operative navigation. Our work this year has focused mainly on mapping tracks to lesions, functional areas and the optic tract.

The Canadian Neurosurgery Rookie Camp

After three years of hosting the Annual Canadian Neurosurgery Rookie Camp in Halifax, Dr. David Clarke, Founder and Camp Director, was excited to receive feedback that other academic centres across Canada demonstrated an interest in hosting the event. The Division of Neurosurgery, University of Alberta, was chosen to host the 4th Annual Canadian Neurosurgery Rookie Camp with Dr. Cian O’Kelly as Camp Host.  On July 10 and 11, 2015, the Camp was held at the Surgical Medical Research Institute, University of Alberta, in Edmonton.

The Rookie Camp is a uniquely Canadian program that provides a learning-intensive environment and successful initiation for neurosurgery residents from across Canada who are beginning their six-year training program.  Based on real patient scenarios, they are introduced to the technical, cognitive and behavioural skills needed in neurosurgery, a field that often involves high-stakes and life-and-death situations where efficient decision making is crucial.  Camp material is developed collaboratively by experts from across the country, with top-notch teaching faculty attending the event from various institutions.  Faculty and residents representing virtually every training program across Canada were in attendance.  Teaching Faculty from Halifax Neurosurgery at the 2015 Rookie Camp included Dr. Sean Barry, Dr. David Clarke and Murray Hong.   

The Canadian Neurosurgery Rookie Camp is endorsed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Specialty Committee in Neurosurgery and the Canadian Neurosurgical Society.   A special thank you to this year’s sponsors:  Medtronic, J&J Codman, KLS Martin, Storz, Integra Canada and the Canadian Neurosurgical Society.  We are also appreciative of the simulation technology provided by Conquer Mobile Inc.

Visit www.neurosurgeryrookie.ca