New technologies from the Italian Air Force to reduce operational risks
Three innovative neurological function monitoring devices were purchased with funds raised by Air Force personnel as part of the ‘A Gift from Heaven’ charity initiative.
Minimize the risk of neurological damage in children requiring complex surgical treatment. This is possible thanks to the use of specific techniques using state-of-the-art machinery. Thanks to an initial donation of 135,000 euros collected from Air Force personnel, the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, through the Foundation of the same name, was able to acquire three innovative medical equipment. Two of them are used to monitor neurological functions, and the third to safely remove diseased tissue using ultrasound. This donation is part of the proceeds of the “A Gift from Heaven” fundraising initiative, conducted by the Air Force on the occasion of the Lauretan Jubilee.
“We are truly grateful for the support and closeness of the Air Force which, with its gift, makes possible the hospital’s aspiration to technological excellence and innovation in surgical techniques”, said the president of the Bambino Gesù, Mariella Enoc. “The new equipment, now available to our teams, will allow us to help the children in an ever more effective way”.
Intraoperative Neuropsychological Monitoring
The neurological functions of children during surgery can be monitored using what are called intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring techniques. During particularly complex operations, this method allows the surgeon to avoid damaging the nervous system by intercepting dangerous situations in advance by reading the signals he emits, just as the flight sensors assist the pilot in an airplane during navigation.
In the pediatric field, monitoring is particularly complex because the signals from the nervous system are more difficult to read than in adults. At Bambino Gesù, thanks to the expertise of neurophysiologists, monitoring has been successfully used in neurosurgery since 2013. Over the years, its use has been extended to other specialties such as cardiac surgery, general surgery and surgery. vascular.
Equipment to reduce risks
The two pieces of equipment purchased with the Air Force donation use state-of-the-art technology to verify and preserve the functionality of important structures in the brain, spinal cord (the central nervous system) and nerves (the peripheral nervous system). ) to minimize damage that may be caused during operations. Thanks to this technology, it is also possible to identify and preserve the function of nerve structures that cannot be recognized even with high definition systems such as the operating microscope and neuronavigation.
The equipment allows the use, even simultaneously, of different neurophysiological techniques such as evoked potentials, electromyography and electroencephalography during the intervention. Evoked potentials are tests that study the responses of the central nervous system to a sensory or motor stimulus, analyzing the nerve pathways that carry information from the periphery to the brain and from the brain to the muscles. Electromyography is used to study the function of muscles and related nerves in a specific area of the body. Electroencephalography, on the other hand, makes it possible to record and analyze the electrical activity of the brain.
Safe disposal of diseased tissue
The ultrasonic aspirator is a machine that can fragment and aspirate any type of diseased tissue while ensuring the integrity of the surrounding vascular structures. It is used in oncology, epilepsy surgery and many other areas of pediatric surgery. It allows surgical procedures to be carried out with extreme precision and is therefore indispensable for carrying out complex operations.
“The acquisition of this new equipment will give a major impetus to the development of intraoperative monitoring techniques in pediatrics and their use in various surgical fields. It will also allow the simultaneous performance of operations requiring the use of this technique in different operating rooms”, explains Professor Carlo Efisio Marras, head of the neurosurgery department of the Bambino Gesù, “The objective is clearly ambitious and requires the effort of all who, like the Air Force, believe in working together and supporting each other to achieve such an important outcome.
The gift of the air force
The amount donated by the Air Force is the result of fundraising related to the charitable initiative “A Gift from Heaven”, carried out on the occasion of the Jubilee of Loreto granted by Pope Francis to celebrate the centenary of the proclamation of Notre-Dame de Lorette, patroness of aeronauts.
“We felt it was important to mark this moment of devotion with a focus on those less fortunate than us,” in the words of the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Alberto Rosso. The “A Gift from Heaven” initiative, in addition to being a concrete sign of the generosity of Air Force personnel, seals the close synergy that already exists between the army and Italian pediatric hospitals: in coordination with the prefectures and the hospitals, in fact, the planes and the crews of the air force ensure, throughout the country, without interruption, the emergency medical transport of the patients whose life is in danger. Unfortunately, these are often young patients who must reach specialized treatment centers as soon as possible, such as the Bambino Gesù in Rome,
The “A Gift from Heaven” initiative, organized by the Italian Air Force in collaboration with the Associazione Arma Aeronautica, has already raised a total of nearly 600,000 euros, which will be allocated in equal parts to the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome, the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa and the Santobono Pausilipon Hospital in Naples. This first installment, with which the three new machines were purchased for the Bambino Gesù Hospital, as well as the others that will follow, are the result of voluntary donations by armed forces personnel who have given the equivalent of one or more hours to the initiative, and fundraising activities organized during initiatives and events that will continue until the end of the Laurentano Jubilee, in December 2021.