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Innovative Work Spaces, Procedures and Treatments

Comprehensive Stroke

UC San Diego's two destination neurovascular centers at Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center enable us to maintain our status as the third Comprehensive Stroke Center in the country. UC San Diego receives national-level referrals for complex cases for both adult and pediatric patients.

This certification, awarded by The Joint Commission, recognizes the significant resources in infrastructure, staff and training necessary to provide state-of-the art complex stroke care.

UC San Diego Health remains one of few health systems in the country to have comprehensive stroke center certification at two hospitals (Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center).

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at the UC San Diego Epilepsy Center is a state-of-the-art seizure evaluation center where patients' seizures are evaluated through continuous video and EEG recording in a hospital setting.

Dr. Sharona Ben-Haim serves as the Surgical Director of Epilepsy within the Department of Neurological Surgery.

UC San Diego's Epilepsy Center is a Level 4 Epilepsy Center as established by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers, providing the highest level of care to patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

Dedicated Neuro-ICU and Step-Down Unit

Postoperative and other medical care of brain and spine tumor patients is provided in the neurological intensive care and step-down units at Jacobs Medical Center. Our ICU teams are led by neurologists and anesthesiologists who are board-certified in Neurological Intensive Care. All nursing care is provided by neurological care-specialized nurses. Patients are not admitted to general medical or surgical wards. Our patient care units at Jacobs Medical Center are all single bed and provide ample space for family and other visitors.

Quad Pod

The 4-room dedicated neurosurgical operating suite at Jacobs Medical Center is state-of-the-art and contains a number of technological advancements unique to Southern California and even the Western United States.

Our suite is equipped with IMRIS intraoperative MRI and Airo intraoperative CT. In addition, each room has an integrated, ceiling mounted Brainlab Curve image-guided neurosurgery system. Our Zeiss Kinevo and Pentero operating microscopes utilize ultraviolet filters for fluorescence-guided tumor resection. These microscopes have integrated 3D video recording capabilities for instruction and continuing medical education purposes. Our newest Kinevo microscopes have exoscope capabilities as well as integrated neuro endoscopes. These features significantly expand our operative capabilities, including for minimally invasive surgery.

In surgery, anesthesia is administered by board-certified neuroanesthesiologists. Our neuromonitoring teams allow us to further monitor brain, spine, and nerve function during surgery. Working together with these teams and our neuropsychologists, we regularly perform awake brain surgery. When indicated, intraoperative mapping of language and strength can allow for maximizing tumor resection with increased safety.

High-Tech Surgical Suites Let Doctors Scan Patients without Either Leaving the Operating Room


Intraoperative MRI

Our IMRIS Hybrid Operating Suite allows us to bring a diagnostic-quality MRI scanner into the operating room on ceiling-mounted tracks. This allows us to obtain a high-quality MRI on patients under anesthesia in the middle of an operation. This MR imaging is invaluable to our surgeons as an aid to achieving maximum safe resection of brain tumors. UC San Diego has the only IMRIS system in Southern California and is one of only three on the West Coast.

Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

In addition to other minimally invasive surgical procedures, we offer Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT). This is an emerging technique to treat primary and metastatic brain tumors that are deep-seated or otherwise hard to reach by conventional surgery. With this technique, a laser is inserted into the tumor, and thermal energy is applied to the tumor under real-time MRI guidance in our IMRIS suite. Using real-time MRI thermography, we are able to precisely map tumor heating and protect surrounding brain. LITT is a minimally-invasive procedure requiring only a small incision on the scalp.

Fluorescence-Guided Surgery

UC San Diego was the first center on the West Coast to routinely utilize fluorescence-guided surgery using 5-Aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA or Gleolan) in the treatment of malignant primary brain tumors. As these tumors are sometimes difficult to distinguish from surrounding brain under normal light, 5-ALA, taken in liquid form by mouth before surgery, causes tumors to glow pink under light passed through a 440 nanometer ultraviolet light. Our Zeiss microscopes are equipped with 440 nm filters, allowing us to perform fluorescence-guided surgery for these tumors.

Advanced Radiation Treatments

In addition to the advanced radiation treatments performed in conjunction with our specialists at the Moores Cancer Center, UC San Diego maintains an affiliation with the California Proton Center. Proton therapy may be of benefit to select patients with brain and spine tumors. In addition, several of our neurosurgical specialists maintain privileges at the San Diego Gamma Knife Center. Gamma Knife treatment is an option for some patients with brain and skull base tumors.

Spinal Robotics Surgery

UC San Diego is an international destination for navigated robotic spinal surgery. Aside from training infrastructure at the Center for the Future of Surgery, patients benefit from the availability of an O-Arm and Mazor X robotics system at the Jacobs Medical Center. This equipment allows for the precise placement of spinal instrumentation using navigation and confirmatory CT imaging. This enables highly-reliable spinal column correction.


We utilize the advanced surgical robot assistant ROSA™ in the operating room which allows for complex 3-D imaging and a robotic surgery. ROSA™'s innovative technology can be used in tumor biopsies and deep brain without the need for an invasive craniotomy. Rady Children's Hospital San Diego (RCHSD) was one of the first five children's hospitals in the country to obtain this device. Using ROSA™ not only improves the precision of the procedure, but reduces the time required in surgery. In addition, young patients enjoy minimal sutures (typically one stitch), quicker recovery time and reduced scarring.