Sacred Heart Hosptial's first "smart OR" was opened in November 2008.

Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., continues to build on its efforts to develop into a pre-eminent, innovative health care organization with the recent opening of its second high-tech "smart OR" that combines the latest scanning technology with precise navigational functions.

The centerpiece of the new smart oper­ating room is the BrainSUITE iCT, a digitally integrated operating room solution from Germany's BrainLAB ( that combines surgical navigation with intraoperative computed tomography (CT) scanning for instant verification of surgical outcomes. The new unit features a 40-slice iCT scanner from Siemens ( that takes 40 ultra-high quality slices, or images, of the body in a few seconds. The 344-bed hospital is one of only a few in the world with the equipment.

The iCT technology is unique because it captures images of the body during surgery, which gives surgeons the opportunity to check their progress and make corrections or adjustments right away instead of after the operation. The technology is especially useful for spinal surgeries and implants, cranial surgeries, trauma and orthopedic procedures.

The iCT's value to surgery has exceeded expectations, says Dr. Kamal Thapar, Marshfield Clinic neurosurgeon and director of the Brain & Spine Institute at Sacred Heart. "Conducting an iCT scan during the surgical procedure allows the surgeon to navigate to the surgical target, verify that the surgical objective was achieved and be certain that the implants are ideally positioned, all of which will reduce the need for additional procedures," he says.

The cost of the iCT surgical suite is about $3 million, but Thapar says the new scanner eliminates the potential need to perform additional corrective procedures that can cost the hospital up to $30,000. Plus, the new scanner is used for diagnostic procedures by several departments at Sacred Heart in addition to surgery, ensuring that the hospital gets maximum use, he adds.

Sacred Heart opened its first smart OR surgical suite, which uses intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging for complex brain surgery, in November 2008.