Girl Planting seeds

Hackensack University Medical Center First on East Coast to Use MRI-Guided Neurosurgical Procedure to Treat Parkinson's Disease

December 28, 2011 08:57 AM
Hooman Azmi, M.D., director, Division of Movement Disorders, Department of Neurosugery at HackensackUMC; Fiona Gupta, M.D., movement disorder neurologist at HackensackUMC; and patient Roger Levitt of Fairlawn, NJ.


Groundbreaking Procedure Allows for Shorter Surgery Times and Use of General Anesthesia

Hackensack University Medical Center is now one of four institutions in the nation – and the only one on the east coast – using one of the world’s most advanced surgical tools in neurosurgery to treat symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease.  This MRI-guided surgical system can comfortably and safely treat the more than one million Americans 1 living with the debilitating systems of Parkinson’s Disease.

The ClearPointâNeuro Intervention System, a device allowing neurosurgical procedures to be performed inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, provides surgeons with real-time images of the brain to guide them through the procedure. Complex, lengthy surgeries traditionally requiring the patient to be at times awake,can now be performed in less time, with patient under general anesthesia and without weaning patients from their medication.

For years, Roger Levitt’s days were consumed by constant, debilitating pain; high doses of medication every three hours; and regular physical therapy sessions. Frightened by the traditional surgery, he had ruled it out as a treatment method.  That is, until a recent conversation with his physicians, Drs. Hooman Azmi and Fiona Gupta.

“Mr. Levitt is the ideal candidates for this new, groundbreaking surgery,” explains Hooman Azmi, M.D., director, Division of Movement Disorders, Department of Neurosugery at HackensackUMC. “Traditionally, surgery requires patients to be weaned off of their medications before surgery, then undergo a lengthy procedure which requires them to be awake during parts of the surgery so that the appropriate area in the brain is targeted. Being able to operate on anesthetized patients is a great leap forward for this type of surgery, and I believe, means that many more patients will be good candidates for treatment.”

Following surgery, the patient visits their neurologist regularly for “programming” the two electrodes implanted in the brain. These electrodes alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Dystonia and other tremors. While it usually takes patients three to six months of “programming” for best results, Mr. Levitt is already experiencing an increased quality of life just six weeks following his surgery.

“It’s difficult when you see your patient who could vastly improve with surgery, but is (understandablyhesitant to undergo traditional surgical methods,” explains Fiona Gupta, M.D., movement disorder neurologist at HackensackUMC. “As our first patient with the ClearPointâNeuro Intervention System, I am seeing promising results and look forward to Mr. Levitt’s improved quality of life. I am hopeful I will have many more patients who may benefit from this method.”


“Everyone has been telling me I look like a new man,” explains Mr. Levitt. “After more than 20 years of symptoms, I walk with head held high now, whereas I used to be hunched over in pain. I can honestly say I have felt no pain in the left side of my body. My medications have been reduced by 80 percent, and best of all I’ve been able travel to see my children and grandchildren.”

In addition to the surgery, Mr. Levitt will soon continue his course of physical therapy and yoga.  A former pharmacist, he’s also been able to get back to teaching classes at a local nursing home.

“Life has really changed dramatically for us, so much so that my younger grandson recently said ‘Papa, we didn’t know you could play basketball’ – that’s when it really sunk in for me.”

And Mr. Levitt isn’t alone in his journey.  His wife Harriet, is encouraged by his progress since the surgery. “He is doing things again he hadn’t done in years. This has given me back my husband I knew long ago.”

For additional information on the ClearPointâNeuro Intervention System, please visit For more information on HackensackUMC, please visit

PHOTO CAPTION (left to right): Hooman Azmi, M.D., director, Division of Movement Disorders, Department of Neurosugery at HackensackUMC; Fiona Gupta, M.D., movement disorder neurologist at HackensackUMC; and patient Roger Levitt of Fairlawn, NJ.


About HackensackUMC

HackensackUMC is a 775-bed not-for-profit, tertiary care, teaching and research hospital and provides the largest number of admissions in New Jersey. Founded in 1888 with 12 beds and as Bergen County's first hospital, HackensackUMC has demonstrated more than a century of growth and progress. HackensackUMC is a nationally recognized healthcare organization offering patients the most comprehensive services, state-of-the-art technologies, and facilities. Honors include being named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades® for five years in a row - the only hospital in New Jersey, New York, and New England to receive this honor for five consecutive years. HackensackUMC was also named one of the 50 Best Hospitals in America by Becker's Hospital ReviewU.S. News & World Reportranked HackensackUMC eighth in the New York Metro Area in its first-ever Best Hospitals metro area rankings, giving it the top ranking out of all the New Jersey hospitals listed. Additionally, HackensackUMC has been ranked in geriatrics, heart and heart surgery, and cancer in U.S. News & World Report's 2011-12 Best Hospitals. The U.S. News Media Group also named the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital to its “2011-12 Best Children’s Hospitals” list – ranking as one of the top 50 in the specialty of neurology and neurosurgery – the first hospital in the State of New Jersey ever to be ranked in a Best Children’s Hospitals specialty. HackensackUMC is a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence, first in New Jersey, second in the nation, receiving its fourth designation in April 2009. HackensackUMC is the hometown hospital of the New York Giants and the New Jersey Nets.



1 Parkinson’s Foundation



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