New technology helps surgeons at Children's Hospital get the job done right

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is known for world-class health care, and UPMC just added another first to the list. It has new equipment that's so powerful, someone stands guard in the operating room.

Shea Skwortz enjoyed a carefree summer in Zelienople. That's a welcomed change from the last 10 months. She was at jujitsu practice last year and suddenly didn't feel right.

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"I got dizzy, and mommy saw that I was wobbling side to side," the 7-year old said.

Her parents, Kelly and Joe Skwortz, thought it might be a concussion from falling out of bed a few weeks earlier, so her doctor ordered MRIs and the results left her parents numb. It was a tumor.

"The next thing I remember is the doctor walking in the room, and I'm on my knees, literally, crying, hanging onto her crying, 'You have to save my baby, you have to save my baby,'" Kelly Skwortz said. "(The doctor) said, 'I am, and I'm going to tell you how I'm going to do it.'"

A state-of-the-art intraoperative MRI is the centerpiece of UPMC Children's Hospital new $10 million operating room.

UPMC Children's Associate Professor of Neurologic Surgery Dr. Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara is a neurosurgeon at Childen's and invited Channel 11 inside for a tour.

"We can stop, roll the patient into the MRI. It is instantly available," Tyler-Kabara said.

She called it a game-changer because traditionally, doctors would have done Shea's surgery and hoped they removed all of the tumors.

"You did your best guess, and you ended your surgery," Tyler-Kabara said.

Then, surgeons would leave the patient sedated and do an MRI several hours later, in another part of the hospital. If those scans showed more tumor, they'd have to debate whether it was worth doing more surgery the next day.

But, with the new MRI machine, it's all instant.

It turns out Shea did have a tiny piece of tumor left in her brain, but Tyler-Kabara was able to go back in immediately and remove it.

Tyler-Kabara showed WPXI anchor Katherine Amenta the brain scans from Shea's surgery. Watch the video above to see those images and learn how doctors determined there was more to remove.