Surgical Theater Reaps Benefits for Patients

Marilyn Brodsky pictured with a 3-D image of her aneurysm


NorthShore patient Marilyn Brodsky only found out she had a large aneurysm in her brain after a bad fall and trip to the Emergency Department warranted a CT scan. She was also told to see a neurosurgeon immediately, especially considering her husband had died of an aneurysm just eight years earlier.

She met with Shakeel A. Chowdhry, MD, a neurosurgeon at NorthShore Neurological Institute. As they sat side by side, he used state-of-the-art 3-D imagery to show Brodsky how he would safely secure her brain aneurysm without placing an incision on her head.

Dr. Chowdhry would go in through an artery in her leg and close off the aneurysm using miniature coils in an innovative minimally invasive surgery with the help of a software system called ‘Surgical Theater.’ This procedure would also lessen the time she was under anesthesia and offer her a quicker recovery.

Dr. Chowdhry used a recently developed FDA-approved platform called “Surgical Theater,” an advanced surgical software system, during steps of her operation. He also uses this virtual reality imaging for pre-op planning in critical cases. “It helps to plan and go through the mental process of seeing things ahead of time or in real time,” he said. Combining these advanced techniques, Brodsky’s brain surgery took less than 30 minutes from beginning to end.

NorthShore was able to acquire the unique software thanks to a $150,000 grant from The Northern Trust Charitable Trust. “We wouldn’t have this technology without our partners in philanthropy,” Dr. Chowdhry added. “It’s a key component to improved patient care.” He also said it’s a great training tool for residents, providing exposure to a surgery in the planning stages. He’s hoping to soon apply the technology in spinal surgeries.

Brodsky, 73, said the fall she suffered in June actually helped save her life. “I was sent home the day after the surgery,” she said. “I can’t say enough about NorthShore and Dr. Chowdhry. He was calm and has a wonderful teaching ability. He showed me everything before and after the surgery.”

Because aneurysms can be hereditary, Dr. Chowdhry is now seeing Brodsky’s two children to make sure their scans are clean and worry-free. “He has our family for life,” said Brodsky of the NorthShore physician.

Please click here to support Surgical Theater. To learn more about supporting innovations in neurosurgery, please contact John H. Hanson, PhD, Director of Philanthropy, at 224.364.7208 or

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