For surgeons trying to explain a new concept, surgical technique, or anatomical insight, a picture may truly be worth a thousand words. That is why I am always excited to work with my colleague Andy Rekito, an award-winning medical illustrator and artist, and assistant professor of neurosurgery at OHSU.
Whether I am representing Doernbecher’s neurosurgical work to the public, teaching neurosurgical young faculty and residents safe and proven techniques, or presenting an important new finding to colleagues around the country, one of Andy’s carefully designed and meticulously crafted illustrations are often what drive my message home and what my audience will ultimately remember.
A great example is surgery to treat a birth defect that occurs at the junction between the skull base and the top of the spine, called Chiari malformation. Doernbecher was one of the earliest hospitals in the United States to adopt and then systematically analyze a new, less invasive form of surgery for Chiari malformation.
Like traditional methods, this operation relieves pressure on the junction between the brain and spinal cord, restoring brain function. The unique aspect of the new technique is to preserve the skull lining that contains cerebrospinal fluid and protects the brain itself. This approach avoids some complications, reduces time in the hospital and even saves health care resources.
Recently, my colleagues and I published a major analysis of the outcomes of Chiari decompression surgery using the new technique compared with the traditional method. In addition to sharing the outstanding results of the new operation, I also wanted to give other neurosurgeons around the country important information about how to accomplish the surgery. That is where Andy Rekito’s illustrations came in.
In fact, not only were his anatomical and surgical illustrations effective in conveying the key concepts, they were also spectacular artwork that helped earn our paper the cover of a world-leading journal, Neurosurgery.
OHSU/Doernbecher neurological surgery is constantly striving to make care better, and to share our advances with others in the field to benefit all children. Outstanding colleagues like Andy make that possible.
Nathan Selden, M.D., Ph.D.
Mario and Edie Campagna Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Director, OHSU Neurological Surgery Residency Program
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital