About YRMC

First Cranial Neurosurgeries Performed at YRMC

by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released March 14, 2012 | Jan 03, 2014

Top Neurosurgeon Brings Expertise and Experience to the Quad Cities

The first cranial neurosurgeries ever performed in the Quad City region took place recently at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). The two successful surgeries— Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting procedures—were performed by accomplished neurosurgeon, Harvey G. Thomas, MD, FRCFC, who joined YRMC six months ago.

“There is a need in the community for VP shunting,” Dr. Thomas said. “Now that this important service is available here, people who require it can remain close to home with support from family and friends.”

VP Shunting Surgery Performed at YRMC

VP shunting is performed to relieve pressure on the brain due to surplus cerebrospinal fluid, which may occur in people suffering from dementia, brain tumors or other conditions. This excess fluid can cause people to suffer from stroke-like symptoms. VP shunting re-routes the fluid, relieving the pressure on the brain and alleviating the patient’s symptoms.

During a VP shunting surgery, Dr. Thomas creates a small opening in the patient’s skull. He then inserts reed-thin tubing and directs it to the patient’s abdominal cavity. Dr. Thomas also places a dime-sized pressure valve under the skin behind the patient’s right ear. The tubing and valve together re-direct the fluid away from the brain to the abdomen where it can be reabsorbed into the body. The pressure valve is programmable and may be adjusted—opened for additional flow or closed tighter—even after the surgery by using a computer with specially designed software. The amount of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain is measured during CT scans of the patient’s head approximately four weeks after surgery and again six weeks post-surgery.

“A build-up of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain can cause forgetfulness, lack of concentration, problems walking and even incontinence,” said Dr. Thomas. “This procedure can relieve those symptoms for many people. And now, folks who need VP shunting don’t have to travel outside of our community for it.”

YRMC Prepares for VP Shunting

Before YRMC’s first VP shunting surgery, the hospital diligently prepared for the surgery by providing training for its nursing staff and purchasing special equipment for the surgical suite.

“VP shunting is the foundation for the hospital's entire Intracranial Neurosurgery program,” said Diane Drexler, RN, BSN, MBA, FACHE, YRMC’s Chief Nursing Officer. “The efforts we took to prepare for this surgery have established a strong foundation for the program going forward.”

YRMC’s nursing staff participated in classroom sessions led by Dr. Thomas and Physician Assistant Jeremy Platt, PA, PA-C. During these sessions, Dr. Thomas and Platt highlighted the role of the nursing team before, during and after VP shunting surgery. YRMC nurses also visited another hospital as part of their training program to prepare for VP shunting surgeries. From the pre-admission work the nursing staff pursues with patients, through surgery and recovery, YRMC’s nursing team was prepared to care for neurosurgical patients.

“Dr. Thomas has a great relationship with the nursing team,” Drexler said. “They know both Dr. Thomas and Jeremy are available to them as resources. This is so critical to a successful program.”

YRMC Launches Neurosurgery Program

Building the Neurosurgery program has been a collaborative effort between YRMC’s leadership—the executive team and its Board of Trustees—and Dr. Thomas.

“Every decision about the Neurosurgery program has been made with our community and patients in mind,” said Tim Barnett, YRMC’s President and CEO. “We are extremely pleased the program includes Dr. Thomas, who is an exceptional neurosurgeon, and a great addition to our community.”

Dr. Thomas, who is affiliated with YRMC PhysicianCare, came to the Quad Cities from the Phoenix-area, where he helped found Arizona Spine and Joint Hospital. He also served as that hospital’s Chairman of the Board. Before that, Dr. Thomas was Surgery Department Chair at Chandler Regional Medical Center. Dr. Thomas is board certified as a neurosurgeon by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. In 2010, he was selected as a “Top Doc” by Phoenix Magazine.