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NHS 'first' as brain surgery is carried out at patients' bedsides

Brain surgeons at Southampton General Hospital are providing life-saving resuscitation, imaging and surgery at patients' bedsides. They're the first in Europe to do so.

Clinicians on the neurointensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton General Hospital have called the development a "major milestone" in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients that could transform clinical practice.

Southampton General Hospital Credit: ITV Meridian

It has been made possible through the use of a £150,000 portable CT scanner - donated by fundraising group Percy's Pals - which enables doctors to scan patients on the unit rather than transport them across hospital to an imaging suite.

Neurosurgeons can then perform an emergency image-guided procedure, known as an external ventricular drain, at the same time to release fluid from the brain and reduce pressure on the skull.

Previously, patients had to be transferred to a scanner by three members of staff - a consultant, medical technician and nurse - for imaging, then taken to theatre if they required a ventricular drain or other emergency surgery.

"Timing is everything when it comes to neurological conditions and any deterioration needs to be diagnosed as quickly as possible so pressure can be taken off of the brain rapidly to give a patient the best possible chance of a good recovery.

"The portable CT scanner not only enables instant imaging, it means we no longer have to move critically ill patients away from the safety of the intensive care unit and we can perform emergency procedures at the bedside - it really is a major milestone in neurointensive care treatment."

– Dr Roger Lightfoot, Director of the NICU, Southampton General Hospital