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October 2011

October 2011

AGH Opens New, State-of-the-Art Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit

By Dan Laurent, Staff Writer

Long regarded as one of the nation’s leading referral centers for the treatment of brain injuries and complex neurological diseases, Allegheny General Hospital recently opened a new neurosurgical intensive care unit (NICU) that will provide patients with access to one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the country.

Dedicated in honor of pioneering AGH neurosurgeon Peter Jannetta, MD, the new 22-bed NICU was designed to meet the unique needs of neurosurgical patients and the medical teams who care for them, said Jack Wilberger, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.

“The immediate postoperative period is a critical time in the recovery of patients who have undergone invasive, often life-saving neurosurgical procedures,” Dr. Wilberger said. “The design of this new unit and the leading-edge technology that we have incorporated into it will greatly enhance our clinical capabilities and afford patients their best chance of having a successful treatment outcome.”

The new NICU features 22 large private patient rooms and was conceptualized with significant input by physicians and nurses from the hospital’s neurosciences and critical care programs. Design elements intended to optimize patient care and safety, family comfort and the staff’s work environment were all driven by patient caregivers.

One of the unit’s key innovations is its use of a boom system that suspends all patient care equipment from the ceiling, providing the medical team with complete, unobstructed access to a patient’s head at all times. Placing important equipment such as medical gas lines and imaging portals on overhead movable consoles also allows each ICU room to be quickly manipulated to accommodate additional medical equipment when necessary, including a portable, mobile CT scanner.

“Mobile CT is an important capability in this critical care setting,” said Khaled Aziz, MD, Director of AGH’s Center for Complex Intracranial Disease and Surgical Director of the NICU. “Patients who have undergone surgery for a brain tumor, aneurysm or traumatic injury often require follow-up CT imaging during post-surgery hospitalization, to assess the brain’s healing process and detect any complications.”

Dr. Aziz added, “The ability to obtain CT images quickly and without having to move a very sick patient out of the ICU setting is extremely advantageous.”

In addition to mobile CT, the new NICU is equipped with sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic technologies designed to enhance the care of critically ill neurosurgical patients, including intracranial pressure monitoring, transcranial Doppler ultrasound, invasive hemodynamic monitoring and continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring.

The NICU is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of expert clinicians, including specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, critical care, neuroradiology, anesthesiology, nursing, clinical pharmacy and physical therapy.

“Technology is wonderful, but it is the exceptional dedication and caliber of those who take care of our patients at the bedside that truly distinguishes this program,” said Antonios Zikos, MD, an AGH Critical Care Specialist and Medical Director of the NICU. “There is no staff more talented or experienced in the region than what we have here.”

A Level 1 trauma center that is also designated as a Spine Surgery Center of Excellence, Primary Stroke Center and Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, AGH gives patients access to the complete spectrum of neurological critical care services around the clock. The hospital’s NICU annually admits more than 1,500 patients.

Peter Jannetta, MD nad Jack Wilberger, MD ribbon Cutting















Caption: Peter Jannetta, MD, Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital (left), and Jack Wilberger, MD, Chair, WPAHS Department of Neurosurgery, cut a ribbon to signify the opening of the new 22-bed neurosurgical intensive care unit at AGH, which was dedicated in honor of Dr. Jannetta’s pioneering career in neurosurgery.