Englewood Health Introduces Robot-Assisted Spine Surgery with GPS-like Precision to New Jersey

New Technology Enhances Patient Safety, Improves Accuracy and Efficiency, and Enables Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

June 27, 2022 — Englewood Health has become the first hospital in New Jersey and one of only 20 hospitals in the country to introduce new advanced technology for robot-assisted spine surgery with GPS-like precision to improve spine surgery. The Excelsius™ Ecosystem is a robotic imaging and navigation platform that will enhance patient safety, improve accuracy and efficiency, and enable minimally invasive surgery.

“This technology takes us to the next era of spine surgery,” says Kevin Yao, MD, chief of neurosurgery at Englewood Health. “It facilitates more precise and more minimally invasive spine surgery, which will translate into shorter patient recoveries and better outcomes.”

Spine surgery is frequently used to stabilize vertebral bones and spinal joints and relieve pressure on the nerves in the spine. Traditionally, spine surgery is performed either percutaneously (minimally invasive surgery) or open and requires several types of imaging equipment for procedures. The new technology gives surgeons an all-in-one imaging capability allowing enhanced visualization of the patient’s anatomy. The Excelsius Ecosystem (Globus Medical) combines the Excelsius3D™ imaging system and the ExcelsiusGPS® robotic navigation platform to provide surgeons with a comprehensive intraoperative image-guided robotic surgery tool.

At Englewood Health, spinal procedures such as lumbar or thoracic fusion will now be possible with more minimally invasive, highly precise techniques. Patients with spine conditions such as degenerative disc disease, fractures, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumors will benefit from newly enhanced procedures made possible by robotic navigation technology. The application of this technology is expected to expand for use in other spine procedures.

Highly precise, minimally invasive robot-assisted spine surgery

To be successful, spinal surgery requires highly accurate placement of surgical hardware used to hold vertebrae. The ExcelsiusGPS generates real-time information before and during the procedure, allowing surgeons to use robotic navigation to place screws and rods with a high-level of precision anywhere from the cervical to the sacroiliac spinal regions.

“Robot-assisted navigation can also help increase predictability of outcomes,” says Asit K. Shah, MD, PhD, chief of orthopedic surgery at Englewood Health. “It is like a GPS for the spine, which gives surgeons a very precise way to choose exactly where to place surgical hardware, such as metal screws.”

Dr. Yao adds, “Many spine surgeries that traditionally required large incisions can now be performed through slit-like openings. This is beneficial for patients, allowing them to mobilize more comfortably and sooner.”

Globus ExcelsiusGPS device

How it works

The Excelsius Ecosystem combines a robotic arm and full navigation capabilities into a single platform for accurate trajectory alignment in spine surgery. The new technology brings a greater level of precision to surgeons performing spine surgery and reduces imaging requirements before, during and after surgery, therefore reducing radiation exposure for the patient and staff.

Radiology images are taken on the day of surgery and imported into the Excelsius equipment. The surgeon then uses these images to determine the size and placement of implants and create a patient plan based on the patient’s anatomy. That plan is used by the surgeon to guide the robotic arm to a specific region of the spine and follow a pathway, like following a GPS. During the procedure, surgeons view live images and the established pathway to accurately place the implants using surgical instruments. The accuracy of hardware placement is then confirmed by 3D image before the patient leaves the operating room.

Improved surgical efficiency and faster recovery

Beyond greater accuracy and safety, the Excelsius Ecosystem allows for improved surgical efficiency. Additionally, with enhanced visualization, more spinal procedures can now be performed minimally invasively, which means smaller incisions, less tissue damage, reduced post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster returns to activity.

Englewood Health First and Only Site in the U.S. to Pilot New Thermal Energy Treatment for Varicose Veins

June 1, 2022 — As part of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, investigator-initiated clinical trial, Englewood Health is offering a new treatment for varicose veins that utilizes an emerging technology: Sonovein® echotherapy. This no-incision, no-scar treatment is designed to provide patients relief from their varicose vein symptoms and a quick return to normal activities following the procedure.

On May 6 and 7, Englewood Health entered the first four patients to receive this novel therapy into the trial. These patients also mark the first in the U.S. to undergo this treatment for varicose veins. In each case, the Sonovein treatment was administered without the need for any kind of anesthesia or infiltration.

Steve Elias, MD, director of the Center for Vein Disease at Englewood Health explained, “We appreciate the opportunity to be the first and only hospital to trial this technology for this indication. But more importantly, we really appreciate our patients for participating and helping to improve vein care for all.”

Sonovein represents the only completely noninvasive varicose vein treatment option using echotherapy to treat damaged veins from outside the body. During echotherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) waves target veins and generate thermal energy. As thermal energy is delivered to the veins, they shrink and ultimately seal closed.

At least three out of every 10 people experience varicose veins in their lifetimes. In a healthy leg vein, the surrounding muscles, combined with the vein walls and valves, work together to ensure that blood is transported against gravity from the legs back towards the heart.

If the vein valves no longer function properly—or the elasticity of the vascular walls weaken—a blood build-up can occur in the legs. This enlarges the vein walls, causing varicose veins to develop and the possible onset of symptoms like itchy, swollen, or heavy-feeling legs. If left untreated, such symptoms can worsen over time, resulting in leg ulcers and other complications.

For those wondering whether they indeed have varicose veins, a consultation with a vein specialist will provide clarity as to whether their veins are functioning properly or if treatment might be necessary.

About the Trial

This is a single-center study with a planned accrual of 20 patients with diagnosed symptomatic primary great saphenous vein (GSV) insufficiency. Interested patients will provide informed consent and be screened for participation.

If eligible, participants will be scheduled for a one-day Sonovein treatment, which consists of:

  • Pre-treatment ultrasonography
  • Positioning
  • Planning
  • Generation of HIFU pulses in the segments chosen for treatment
  • Post-treatment visualization

At follow-up visits scheduled for one week after treatment and 3 months after treatment, changes in veins and flow characteristics will be evaluated by ultrasound and physical exam.

There is no cost to patients who qualify for participation in the trial. If interested in participating, you can reach Dr. Elias at the Center for Vein Disease at Englewood Health, 201-894-3252.

Englewood Health Appoints Peter Shin, MD, Chief of Medicine

May 24, 2022 — Englewood Health has appointed Peter Shin, MD, chief of medicine. Dr. Shin has served as section chief of hospital medicine since 2015.

Dr. Shin is board certified in internal medicine and specializes in caring for hospitalized patients. At Englewood Health, he is a faculty member in the Internal Medicine Residency Program and supervises residents as they care for patients through multidisciplinary hospital care. He also works closely with Englewood Health’s information technology department as the inpatient physician lead, helping to establish provider workflows and adapt the Epic electronic medical record system to fit the institution’s needs.

Dr. Shin serves on numerous hospital task forces and committees, including the Medical Staff Professional Practice Evaluation Committee, Opioid Task Force, CHF Readmission Reduction, Denial Appeals and Revenue Recovery, and the Clinical Informatics Committee.

“Dr. Shin is not only an accomplished clinician in his field, but a respected leader who will help ensure that Englewood Health remains a top hospital in the nation,” said Hillary Cohen, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs at Englewood Health.

“It is an honor to serve as chief of medicine at Englewood Health and to be entrusted with ensuring that our hospital patients are cared for properly and our residents are given an excellent learning experience,” said Dr. Shin.

Dr. Shin received his MD from Columbia University and completed his internal medicine residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. He is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine, a clinical assistant professor at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, and an exam writer for the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Shin assumes his new role as chief of medicine following the long-time tenure of Alexandra Gottdiener, MD.

Englewood Health Offers Patients Access to a Customizable Cardiac Monitoring Device, Powered by Artificial Intelligence

May 23, 2022 — Englewood Health is offering patients access to a new insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) device that offers personalized programming to fit a patient’s lifestyle and their physician’s workflow.

LINQ II™ is a small, wireless ICM for patients with abnormal heart rhythms who experience infrequent symptoms, including dizziness, palpitations, syncope (fainting) and/or chest pain, thereby requiring long-term monitoring or ongoing management.

“Proper monitoring of patients with abnormal heart rhythms provides crucial data that informs treatment decisions,” said Grant Simons, MD, chief of heart rhythm services at Englewood Health. “This new device is really something special, and a great advancement in the monitoring of these individuals.”

The device is one-third the size of a AAA battery and is placed just beneath the skin through a small incision (less than one cm) in the upper left side of the chest, using a minimally invasive procedure.

The LINQ II features remote programming through the Medtronic CareLink™ Network, which is used to remotely manage and monitor a patient’s device. Secure, two-way communication between CareLink and the LINQ II can help reduce both patient office visits and physician review of repetitive data.

Deep learning algorithms applied to the device are reported to save physicians approximately 319 hours of review of false alerts for every 200 LINQ II patients. The algorithm does this by addressing the two most common sources of ICM false alerts: atrial fibrillation and pause.

The device also offers patients access to a Bluetooth-enabled mobile app that allows them to monitor their device and share insights with their physicians directly from their phone, at any time of day.

Urologist Ruben M. Pinkhasov, MD, MPH, Joins Englewood Health

May 18, 2022 — Urologist Ruben M. Pinkhasov, MD, MPH, has joined Englewood Health. Dr. Pinkhasov has been appointed director of minimally invasive urologic surgery at Englewood Health’s Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center. His main clinical interests are in urologic cancers, including those of the prostate, adrenal gland, bladder, kidney, testis, and ureters. He also treats common urological conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and urinary stone disease. Dr. Pinkhasov joins Urology of Englewood Health Physician Network and welcomes new patients to his practice, in Englewood.

”I partner with my patients in their care,” says Dr. Pinkhasov. “I am not the type of doctor who will tell you what to do. Understanding your treatment goals and what you value in life help me decide how to best get you to your goal. I believe that everyone should be offered hope, and everyone should be offered treatment.”

Dr. Pinkhasov received his MD from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University College of Medicine and an MPH from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University School of Public Health, in Brooklyn, NY. He did a urology residency, and was chief resident, at Maimonides Medical Center, in Brooklyn. He completed a urologic oncology fellowship focused on minimally invasive surgical approaches, including robotic surgery and laparoscopy for the treatment of genitourinary cancers, at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Buffalo, NY. His research focuses on nutrition and prostate cancer prevention. He is a member of the American Urological Association, the Society of Urologic Oncology, and the New York State Urological Society. In addition to English, Dr. Pinkhasov is fluent in Russian.

Englewood Health Offers Heart Failure Patients Access to an Emerging Medical Device

May 12, 2022 — Englewood Health is offering suitable patients access to a novel medical device demonstrated to improve heart failure symptoms.

The Optimizer® CCM® is a first-of-its-kind device designed to improve heart contractions, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the body. The device accomplishes this by delivering cardiac contractility modulation (CCM), a kind of therapy that sends precisely-timed electrical impulses to the heart that strengthens the heartbeat.

Impulse Dynamics Optimizer medical device
Image courtesy Impulse Dynamics

The device is similar in size to a pacemaker and is implanted just under the skin of the upper chest during a minimally invasive procedure. Electrical leads are also placed in the heart’s right ventricle and, once there, deliver electrical impulses to the heart at regular intervals throughout the day and night.

The Optimizer CCM system was granted “Breakthrough Device” designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a label and expedited approval process given to emerging devices that offer significant advantages over existing alternatives or, as in the case for the Optimizer system, where there are no suitable alternatives available for a large population of patients.

“The goal of the Breakthrough Devices Program is to provide patients and health care providers with timely access to these medical devices by speeding up their development, assessment, and review while preserving the statutory standards for premarket approval,” the FDA reports.

The Optimizer CCM received this designation for its ability to cause subsequent heartbeats to be stronger and more forceful with the continued use of the device. Over time, the improvements in contraction have been shown to restore the heart to a more normal condition through a process known as reverse remodeling.

Heart failure affects an estimated 6.5 million Americans and nearly 64 million people worldwide. Patients with heart failure can experience symptoms that make everyday activities challenging, including breathlessness, fatigue, confusion, and swelling of the legs.

In clinical trials, the Optimizer CCM has demonstrated its capacity to enhance the quality of life for heart failure patients who no longer respond to medications meant to manage their symptoms.

“We welcome the opportunity to expand the options available to our cardiac patients and feel confident that the Optimizer CCM system will improve the lives of those who qualify for its use,” said David Y. Feigenblum, MD, medical director of the Implantable Defibrillator Center at Englewood Health.

Englewood Health Named One of the Best Hospitals in the U.S. for Maternity Care

May 12, 2022 — Englewood Health has been named one of the best hospitals in the U.S. for maternity care by Newsweek’s 2022 Best Maternity Hospitals list.

“We are honored to be named one of the best hospitals for maternity care in the U.S.,” says Valerie M. French, MBA, BSN, RNC, senior director of nursing for maternal/child health at Englewood Health. “This award reflects the dedication of our clinical staff to providing the highest quality, personalized care for women before and throughout the labor and delivery experience.”

This mark of distinction was presented by Newsweek and consumer data company Statista Inc., following a rigorous vetting process in which three data sources were evaluated.

Those sources are:

  • A nationwide online survey: 10,000 medical professionals with knowledge of maternity care processes—including midwives, neonatal specialists, and OB/GYNs—were asked to recommend leading maternity hospitals.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): publicly sourced KPIs relevant to maternity care, including those relating to cesarean births, elective deliveries, and perinatal care.
  • Patient satisfaction surveys: hospital patient surveys on topics like cleanliness, communication, staff responsiveness, and care transitions.

Englewood Health delivers nearly 3,000 babies annually. At Englewood Health’s Karen and Gary Singer Family Family Birth Place, moms and babies receive expert care and attention, as well as a full spectrum of services including prenatal care, high-risk testing and monitoring, childbirth education, and post-pregnancy resources and support.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists and neonatologists are available on-site to care for high-risk mothers and newborns and provide timely, high-quality care in a modern neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

For more information about the rankings and methodology of Newsweek’s Best Maternity Hospitals list, visit: newsweek.com/rankings/americas-best-maternity-hospitals-2022.

Englewood Health Nationally Recognized with an ‘A’ Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade — Its 18th Since 2012

May 10, 2022 — Englewood Health received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022. This national distinction recognizes Englewood Health’s achievements in patient safety and marks the 18th A rating for Englewood Health since 2012.

“We are honored to receive an ‘A’ rating from the Leapfrog Group again,” says Kathleen Kaminsky, MS, RN, NE-BC, senior vice president, patient care services and chief nursing officer at Englewood Health. “This mark of distinction reflects the commitment of our entire health care team to prioritizing patient safety.”

“We’re proud to see our team’s dedication to ensuring the best possible patient outcomes once again reflected in Leapfrog’s ‘A’ designation for this rating period,” says Jamie Ketas, vice president for quality at Englewood Health.

“I thank the workforce and leadership of Englewood Health for sustained commitment to patient safety, day in and day out,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “An ‘A’ Safety Grade is an outstanding achievement, and one that is not possible without a 24/7 effort by the entire health care workforce to protect patients from harm. This community should be proud.”

To see Englewood Health’s full grade details and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org.

Weed Pollen Season Predicted to be Worse This Year — Here’s How to Stay Ahead of Allergy Symptoms

AccuWeather’s 2022 allergy forecast predicts the early phases of allergy season in New Jersey will be “average” when compared to previous years. However, the later phase of the season—also called weed season—is predicted to bring higher-than-normal levels of pollen.

If your seasonal allergies have already begun to flare up, you have tree season to thank—the first phase of allergy season that begins in March and is characterized by an uptick in tree pollen. By the middle of May, grass season takes the reins, followed by the final wave of the year: weed season.

Weed season begins in mid-August and lasts until the first frost. During this time, the pollen-packed ragweed plant is the main culprit of classic allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy throat, and irritated eyes.

This year, New Jersey is predicted to see a worse-than-usual weed season.

“In fact, weed pollen will dominate the entire East Coast as an increase in moisture and temperature creates a favorable environment for weeds to thrive,” AccuWeather reports.

Though daily pollen counts will largely be determined by local weather conditions, an overall increase in ragweed pollen is something allergy sufferers across New Jersey will want to prepare for.

Daily Prevention

“As many people with allergies already know, the best treatment is often prevention,” said Niya H. Wanich, MD, an allergist and immunologist at Englewood Health. “If you have a routine that’s worked for you in the past—like the use of a daily antihistamine like Zyrtec or Claritin—consider beginning that regimen before symptoms arise.”

Protect Your Home

Protecting your indoor environment is also key. Keeping windows and doors closed; regularly cleaning washable fabrics like bedsheets, blankets, and curtains; and vacuuming and dusting often will help keep your home free of seasonal irritants.

Showering and changing your clothes when you enter the home, as well as keeping your shoes apart from your living space, will prevent tracking pollen inside; and the use of an indoor air purifier with a HEPA filter can reduce pollen floating in the air.

Prepare for the Outdoors

Dr. Wanich also recommends checking your local pollen forecast before planning outdoor activities. Mornings are typically high-pollen times, as are dry and windy days. The best time to be outside is after a rainstorm, as rain cleanses pollen from the air and washes it off cars, roads, and structures.

If you do find yourself amongst nature on a high-pollen day, wearing a mask can reduce the amount of pollen you breathe into your nose and throat.

“Remember that even with the best of efforts, it’s impossible to avoid pollen entirely,” said Dr. Wanich. “If you become irritated, the use of a saline nasal rinse to wash away pollen particles in your nose can be a huge relief.”

When using nasal spray, it’s important that the water be distilled or sterile—both of which can be bought in most stores. If you prefer to use water from your own home, make sure to boil it and let it cool before using it, so as not to transfer harmful bacteria into your nasal passages.

Consult an Expert

“If your allergy symptoms are still bothersome, consider consulting an allergist. There are so many options available that can provide relief from seasonal allergies—it’s just about finding the right course of treatment for you,” said Dr. Wanich.

Posted April 29, 2022

For a Urinary Tract Infection, A Trip to Urgent Care May Offer Relief

It’s 2 p.m. on a Sunday. After a big glass of water, you make your way to the bathroom. Once there, you’re struck by an all-too familiar feeling: a burning sensation when you pee followed by the dreaded ‘still-need-to-pee’ feeling after your bladder has emptied.

You know this feeling to indicate the arrival of a urinary tract infection and that only a swift course of antibiotics can help you now. To complicate matters, your gynecologist won’t be open until Monday, and you can’t know for sure how long you’ll wait for an appointment once they do open their doors.

Most women can recall a time in their lives—much like this one—when they needed quick attention for a health issue but could not see their regular doctors in a timely fashion. As we know, pregnancy, vaginal infections, pelvic pain, morning sickness, and menopause flareups wait for no woman.

When symptoms do arise outside of our doctor’s regular hours, many of us find ourselves in emergency rooms being treated for distinctly non-life-threatening illnesses.

Luckily, there is a third option other than your regular doctors and the emergency room. It’s a place that you’re probably forgetting to utilize when you need it most: urgent care.

“Urgent care offers a wide array of women’s health services, from pregnancy and STI testing, to the diagnosis and treatment of UTIs, vaginal infections and abdominal pain,” said Jacqueline R. Ysique, MD, a family medicine specialist at Englewood Health Urgent Care.

Urgent care centers specialize in the treatment of non-emergent illnesses and injuries—ones that require speedy intervention all the same. Though most urgent cares do not have a gynecologist or obstetrician on site, they do employ highly skilled, board-certified physicians, who are capable of diagnosing and treating all manner of health issues.

If need be, urgent care can share your test results with your current doctor or refer you to a new doctor or specialist, as well as assist you in scheduling an appointment that same day.

Englewood Health Urgent Care has the added benefit of being open late nights and weekends—the times when your normal doctors are probably closed. They welcome walk-in appointments and—most importantly—have an on-site provider who can provide diagnosis, treatment, or referral to a specialist.

Dr. Ysique is one such physician. She sees patients at four Englewood Health Urgent Care locations in Fair Lawn, Englewood, Cresskill, and Jersey City.

“If you’re ever wondering whether an ailment you’re experiencing can be treated at urgent care, it’s as simple as giving the office a call and asking,” Dr. Ysique said. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the range of health issues we’re able to help you with here.”

Posted April 28, 2022