Making the invisible visible

Thanks to the support of philanthropy, The Royal Children’s Hospital’s (RCH) neurology team has been able to make the invisible visible.

The Neuroscience Advanced Clinical Imaging Service, also known as NACIS, uses advanced brain imaging processing and analytic techniques to produce a detailed map of a child’s brain vessels, critical brain regions, and nerve connections, which control functions like language, vision and movement.

This service, led by Dr Joseph Yang and made possible thanks to philanthropic support from Red Zed Lending Solutions Pty Ltd, Chain Reaction Challenge Foundation and the Good Friday Appeal, plays an essential role that commercial magnetic resonance imaging services (MRI) can’t. This allows surgeons to see minute details of a patient’s brain and offer precise and personalised preoperative care.

By developing these highly advanced images, NACIS has enabled surgeons to meticulously plan for a safe surgical roadmap, avoid damaging these critical functional brain structures and perform brain operations with a greater level of accuracy than ever before. 

“Without this technology, we would not be able to operate safely on countless patients, or we may need to turn away patients because of the perceived risk. Neurosurgery requires mapping and planning that normal MRIs can’t offer,” Joseph said. 

As Joseph explains, NACIS is improving long-term outcomes and the quality of life in many children and young people by integrating advanced imaging in a way that is incredibly safe.

“I think we are one of a kind in the sense that we have successfully implemented and integrated advanced imaging research seamlessly into clinical neurosurgical practice, in a way that’s done really effectively and safely,” Joseph shared. 

Joseph conservatively estimates that this service has helped around 350 patients to date.

“I am extremely proud and grateful for the ongoing support of the RCH Foundation. And that support has allowed me to grow as a researcher, to a point I’m now seen as a world leading expert in this area,” Joseph added.