THE Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) has adopted new surgical techniques of brain and spine tumours to enable more patients undergo the procedure locally, cutting the costs of seeking overseas medical care.

MOI specialists are currently undergoing training on ultrasound-guided surgery of brain and spine tumours from the medical experts from the Colorado Deniver University in the United States.

MOI Executive Director, Dr Respcious Boniface, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the visit by the US experts was a result of a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Corolado Deniver University and MOI through Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) to exchange expertise on health issues.

“The health experts will remain here for two weeks, training our specialists … especially on the new surgical technique and other procedures that could not be done within the country.”

He said the visiting specialists had since conducted brain and spine tumour operations on three patients between Tuesday and yesterday through the application of the new technique (Ultrasound) which is billed as safe time-saving.

Dr Boniface explained that the new procedure would help reduce time spent doing brain and spine tumor surgery from seven to three hours as well as allow more people to access the service.

The Institute is currently conducting the procure to 60 people per year. “ … health specialists currently spend between six and seven hours doing brain and spine tumour surgery, but with the new technology they can now spend just three hours for similar procedures,” he explained.

Dr Boniface also disclosed that the cost of undergoing similar procedures abroad was estimated at between 25m/- and 30m/- for medication alone, against a paltry 3m/- and 3.5m/- when conducted within the country.

MOI Neurosurgeon, Dr Nicephorus Rutabasibwa, said that the new technique was being conducted within the country for the first time and that it would be “very useful in performing surgical operations and allow more patients to access the service.”

“This technique is cheap because we use ultrasound machines available at the hospital than if we were to use brain navigation equipment which are very expensive,” Dr Rutabasibwa said.

He explained that currently surgeons conduct the surgery after the patient has undergone screening through the CT-Scan machine, but the ultrasound can be used once the skull has been opened to map the area of tumours deep in the brain and spine.

Dr Rutabasibwa also said that the health experts from US will also help MOI and MUHAS to prepare curriculum for the courses to be taught in the country, the move that will make the institute to become the centre of excellence in Sub- Saharan Africa.

Prof Ryan David, a Neurosurgeon from the University of Colorado Denver said that ultrasound-guided surgery of brain and spine tumours was safe and could be performed very quickly.

He said that his team would bring in new techniques to MOI specialists through the MoU they entered three years ago, allowing for an exchange of expertise between the two institutes.

“We will be practising the new procedure together for few weeks to allow the specialists carry out the procedure more quickly and we will continue exchanging our staff in future,” he said.