Neurosurgical Firsts

From its earliest days, Monmouth Medical Center has been a leader in surgical advances. With a statewide reputation for excellence in the field, Monmouth has been and remains on the cutting edge as high technology has entered the operating room. Below are the milestones achieved by the Neurosurgery Program at Monmouth Medical Center.


MMC neurosurgeon Jonathan Lustgarten, M.D. — who was later joined by associates David Estin, M.D., Ty Olson, M.D., and Timothy Link, M.D. — teams with neurosurgeons from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center's renowned Department of Neurosurgery to create a center of excellence in the treatment of brain tumors and disorders of the nervous system.


Monmouth Medical Center became a trial site to investigate a new form of chemotherapy for recurring malignant brain tumors - a major step in developing an effective therapy for brain cancer and improving the quality of life for these patients. The treatment involves placing a wafer-thin chip that delivers chemotherapy directly on the site where the brain tumor is removed, slowly dissolving into the surrounding brain tissue in an effort to delay or stop the development of additional tumors. Neurosurgeon Johanthan Lustgarten,M.D., was the principal investigator for the Monmouth Medical Center site of the trial of the drug, the Gliadel wafer.


Monmouth is the first hospital in Monmouth and Ocean counties to introduce image-guided neurosurgery using a technology known as the StealthStation. The system helps surgeons plan and perform delicate procedures in the cranium and spine with greater accuracy, less patient trauma and in a less invasive manner. Also in 2000, neurosurgeons David Estin, M.D., and Jonathan Lustgarten, M.D., introduced an innovative minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove tumors from the base of the brain without making an incision. Monmouth was the first hospital in the tri-state area to introduce endoscopic surgery for the removal of pituitary and other tumors from the base of the brain. With this cutting-edge procedure, neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors) can use an endoscope — a surgical instrument that uses small fiberoptic tubes to visualize the tumor — to remove growths from this delicate cranial region through the nasal cavity.


MMC neurosurgeons performed the region’s first “awake” craniotomy — a brain mapping procedure that allows patients to remain conscious during surgery. It is emerging as a highly effective technique to treat brain tumors and lesions previously determined to be inoperable or only partially resectable. MMC neurosurgeon Ty J. Olson, M.D., is one of only a handful of neurosurgeons in the country to perform awake craniotomies.


In a groundbreaking procedure at Monmouth Medical Center, neurosurgeon David Estin, M.D., performs cervical disk arthroplasty, or artificial disk surgery to replace a herniated disk in his patient's neck with a synthetic one - the first FDA-approved clinical artificial disk procedure in Monmouth County. Before the evolution of artificial disk surgery, patients often underwent spinal fusion surgery - traditional surgery involved removing the diseased disk, then fusing the vertebrae together with a bone graft.


Monmouth Medical Center neurosurgeon David Estin, M.D., becomes the first physician in New Jersey to utilize the O-Arm Imaging System during a surgical case that involves a spinal fusion with screw and rod stabilization of the lumbar spine. Monmouth is the first hospital in New Jersey to acquire and implement the O-Arm Imaging System, a new device that can take CAT scan images of the body during surgery. Dr. Estin explains that placing screws in the spine usually requires estimating the precise location of the bone with simple X-rays. With the O-Arm, the accuracy is dramatically improved because of the real-time 3-D images provided by the device that can then be linked to an intraoperative navigation system called the “Stealth Station.”


Neurosurgeons with The Neuroscience Institute at Monmouth Medical Center team with the hospital’s radiation oncologists to offer the region's first Gamma Knife Center, providing a proven alternative to invasive surgery for patients with brain metastases, brain dysfunctions, and brain tumors.


Monmouth Medical Center completes construction on two new operating rooms, each offering more than 700 square feet of state-of-the-art operating space to accommodate the growth in neurosurgical surgery cases.

Patient Stories

  • "Monmouth Medical Center’s incredible physicians saved my life, saved my brain and added to the quality of my life, now we want to pay it forward and get involved.”

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  • “Two months after surgery, I was chipping golf balls in my backyard. I’m now seven months post-surgery and have returned to doing all the things I love to do, including traveling, golfing regularly and playing with my two grandchildren, with no pain or ...

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