KHSC opens new hybrid operating suite for endovascular procedures

Kingston General Hospital, a KHSC site. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

Today, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, a new $2.8-million hybrid operating room (OR) at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is set to open. The OR will combine state-of-the-art imaging technology with a traditionally equipped operating room in order to advance minimally-invasive endovascular (inside-blood vessels) procedures in Kingston, according to KHSC.

One of the many benefits of this new room will be that more complex care will be delivered closer to home for KHSC patients, according to a release from the health care organization. Specifically, KHSC said they will be able to provide advanced procedures which involve small cuts to go inside arteries to repair weak areas and blockages, instead of making large cuts to open the body to access blood vessels.

“We are looking forward to providing the latest endovascular procedures to members of our community and not having them travel out of southeastern Ontario to get the care they need,” said Dr. Tarit Saha, KHSC cardiac anesthesiologist and clinical lead for the project that designed the world-class OR.

Until now, mostly less-complicated endovascular aneurysm repairs (EVARs) to the aorta, the largest artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, were treated at KHSC in the ORs and in the interventional radiology suites, according to the release. An aneurysm is a weakened or bulging area on the wall of an artery.

“The new operating room will enable us to care for patients who we were not able to treat before and had to send to other centres,” said Dr. Ben Mussari, an interventional radiologist at KHSC. “We now have an advanced OR in which to treat complex aortic aneurysms that involve multiple branches to other arteries.”

Instead of opening up the chest or abdomen in order to access the aorta, an EVAR is a minimally-invasive procedure in which medical teams insert a long tube carrying a stent graft (a metal mesh tube covered with fabric) into the main artery in the thigh and guide it to the area of the aorta with the aneurysm, KHSC explained in the release. Once placed, the stent graft works to restore normal blood flow and prevent the aneurysm from growing or bursting, which could cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

The benefits of minimally-invasive, image-guided procedures are well documented, including less time in surgery, shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries and better outcomes, according to the release.

“Historically, patients with complicated aortic aneurysms involving the entire aorta would require all-day major surgery and multi-week recovery in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Michael Yacob, a vascular and endovascular surgeon at KHSC. “With the introduction of advanced aortic stenting in our new hybrid OR, we can perform the same procedure in half the time, with less than one week needed for patient recovery.”

KHSC said that image-guided surgery also offers greater control of surgical procedures, which can result in more precise treatment. It also provides real-time feedback on the effect of treatments, leading to more durable repairs.

“I hope it helps ease patients’ anxieties toward surgery knowing that they are about to undergo a high-quality surgery in one of the most advanced operating rooms the world has to offer,” said Dr. Yacob.

Before now, advanced imaging at KHSC was only available outside of ORs, in the interventional radiology suites where approximately 7,000 procedures are performed each year and through the diagnostic imaging department where more than 200,000 diagnostic scans such as CT, X-rays and MRIs take place yearly, according to KHSC.

Time spent moving emergency patients between interventional radiology or diagnostic imaging to an OR is time that could instead be spent in surgery, KHSC said. According to the release, it will also save time having all of the medical specialties needed for advanced procedures in one location.

“The new hybrid OR brings specialties together to magnify the knowledge, expertise and experience of each field,” said KHSC interventional cardiologist Dr. Paul Malik, whose expertise includes implanting new aortic heart valves so that blood flows smoothly from the heart to the body. “Patients and family members should be assured that when they come to KHSC for a procedure, it will be performed by a skilled multidisciplinary team in a state-of-the-art facility affiliated with a world-renowned university.”

“We’ve always had the people with the expertise and skills to perform advanced vascular and endovascular surgeries,” added Dr. Yacob. “Now we have the technology in an OR to propel us toward becoming a nationally and internationally renowned centre of vascular excellence.”

Dr. Saha believes the new hybrid OR will help attract other health-care professionals trained in the latest technology to join KHSC.

“It’s exciting,” said Dr. Yacob, “We are proudly moving vascular and endovascular surgery at KHSC from the modern era into the future, and we’re ready to stand should-to-shoulder with the most advanced hospitals in the world.”

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