The first time I got involved with surgery was when I was 8 years old when my dad brought me to his work in the hospital for summer practice. Back then, in the eighties, surgery has been going through major changes. Large incisions were being replaced by small holes that surgeons used to bring people back to life, using thin instruments under the control of video cameras, X-ray, ultrasound, or even a combination of these.
But still, it was necessary to damage the tissues to get to the location. The surgeon's impact was immediately irreversible, regardless of whether he acted correctly or not.
Will there come a time when a surgeon's scalpel becomes hard and sharp only when the surgeon gives it the right command?
Maybe this scalpel will appear immediately in the right place on the inside, without cutting in from the outside?
The director statement
Our documentary aims to improve people's health and quality of life. The community should be made aware of the availability of the latest treatments that are not pain-related, incision-related, and predictable in advance.
If society is not informed, then the patient and his relatives will not ask the doctor about a bloodless alternative, and the doctors will not know that it is possible to refer the patient. The availability of comprehensive information would help make a decision.
Therefore, we made this documentary about the opening of the first in Russia MRGFUS neurosurgery center. The center of bloodless neurosurgery using MRI-guided focused ultrasound.
In addition, we would like to show how a few passionate innovators can move the world forward.
When you make a film about what you love and what you believe in, it is easy to overcome difficulties. One of the challenges was the lack of documentary footage where the film heroine would do the good old open operations. Therefore, we did some recreated shots of Rezida Galimova making them.
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When I was a little girl, I had a dream of becoming such a bioengineer that would create interesting things to help patients. One of such things would be a small robot that could be injected into a blood vessel of an arm. Using a joystick, you would guide it to the brain and remove a tumor.
I remember the day we operated on a craniopharyngioma of an eight-year-old boy. And after we spent eight hours on getting to that tumor and about three or four hours on removing it, I thought that there has to be a device that would make this job easier and faster, without any pain or blood. So that we wouldn’t have to use anesthesia and would be able to communicate with the patient. To have a dependable and manageable technology.
And during my internship in the United States, I saw such technology, as focused ultrasound, saw its effect. I thought that it was my childhood dream come true.
FUS is a focused ultrasound. When we use multiple sources of ultrasound and focus them on a single point using special equipment, we get a concentration of powerful energy in one tiny, tiny point. We use this energy to heat the target. We heat it to a certain temperature. There is a safe temperature threshold when the cell does not collapse, but loses its function for a period of two to four minutes. The cell can be heated to a therapeutic temperature when protein denaturation occurs. This helps us to make sure that we are at the right spot and the treatment is still safe.
I thought about several components of this device for many years. And then I decided that I have to fulfill my personal dream.
The path from the beginning to the first operation may take about two years or even more. From 2018 to 2020, we worked hard to bring this idea to life and get the necessary equipment. This is a business, a project, an investment project, this is a search for an investor, the search for funding, and location. The search for suppliers. This is a design project of the chosen location. You can see it all behind my back.
I mean, it’s a huge work when you do not count the hours, you just work and feel like you need to take just one little step. A little step and then it all will work out.
It’s our pleasure to announce that finally our center has received the license.
We were ready to launch our project in March in the beginning of 2020. But suddenly the unexpected happened. COVID-19 pandemic. An emergency of an international level. The World Health Organization is ready to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Emergency Committee. It has been established that the causative agent of viral pneumonia of unknown origin in Wuhan is a new coronavirus. And now is the time to put it on, if it was previously believed that the virus is not transmitted from person to person, now it has been officially announced that it is.
Even as of today, Russia has temporarily closed the border to contain the spread of the virus. The border is open for entry only for those of our citizens who are evacuated from different countries according to the lists of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nobody knew how long we would be under the lockdown. How long will it last? And will there ever be an end to this plight? There were about twenty patients on our list that we started working with the previous year, and each of these patients was looking forward to our opening.
The quarantine could not stop us. Ufa cardiac surgeons, together with a professor from Italy, performed online heart surgery.
Fortunately for us, at the Republican Cardiology Center, Professor Igor Buzaev performed a joint operation with Professor Eustaquio Onorato.
A unique team of doctors is standing at the operating table, cardio, and X-rays, surgeons, engineers, hybrid imaging specialists. Professor Eustaquio Onorato from Italy remotely advises Russian colleagues via the video call. The operation was a success. The patient survived, and the whole affair received a huge response in the media. They were talking about it on every TV channel, and we decided that this was an opportunity to show the INSIGHTEC that here and now, in the twenty-first century, digital technologies in medicine have development so that it is possible to carry out even such complex operations without a person physically present at the location.
Therefore, we asked the company that manufactures this equipment to organize a training session, at least to show how the equipment works and how to use it properly.
Our MRI room and our control room turned into a broadcasting studio with lots of cameras. We established a connection and each piece of equipment went online. And one could use a link, to enter the system and carry out the treatment with us. After a bit of consideration, the company organized a meeting with us and conducted training, taught us to operate on phantoms. And after about twenty or thirty successful surgeries on phantoms none of which was injured, we sent a letter to the company again and requested an attempt to conduct therapy for the first live patient. After a while we received a positive response and on May 5, 2020, we performed an operation on our first patient.
I will tell everyone I know, all my friends and relatives that there are people who are able to save us. Thank you so much! To all of you.
More than 40 operations have already been performed at the international medical center named after Vyacheslav Buzaev this is an experience of more than 40 happy patients who got rid of tremors.
Thanks to the work of ambitious people, the time has come when operations can be done without a single incision, without pain, and with a guarantee of highest quality.
MRI-guided focused ultrasound treatment is like a soft scalpel that appears inside and becomes sharp only when the surgeon knows exactly that the procedure goes according to the plan.
And the team of the center is already looking to conquer new frontiers of modern non-invasive surgery.