Two new advanced hybrid operating rooms open at Grey Nuns Community Hospital

Patients with vascular conditions now have access to the two most advanced hybrid operating rooms with Canon technology in Canada at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital.

The new operating suites will help surgeons do more procedures and handle more complex cases. Patients will spend less time in surgery and less time in recovery, which will help them get home faster.

Operating Room Nurse Karla Gambier prepares the suite for surgery. Here, she adds a sterile cover to the light handle, creating a safe barrier between staff and equipment in the room.

“The new technology provides our surgeons with exceptional image resolution, which allows us to work more accurately and quickly,” says Dr. Gerrit Winkelaar, Head of Vascular Surgery at the Northern Alberta Vascular Centre (NAVC) located at the Grey Nuns. 

“We can perform procedures on vessels that were difficult to see well using our old equipment.”

Approximately 300,000 Albertans suffer from vascular diseases. 

Conditions of vascular disease include aortic aneurysm, traumatic injuries and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Common signs include heart issues, high blood pressure, aneurysm and poor circulation, which can lead to sores, numbness, pain, reduced movement and even loss of limb function. Diseases of the arteries and veins are linked to several risk factors such as genetics, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and poorly controlled diabetes. 

Dr. Gerrit Winkelaar is the Head of Vascular Surgery at NAVC.

“A lot of what we do is help save limbs and lives,” says Gerrit. “Restoring blood flow results in a substantial change to a patient’s symptoms.” 

As a surgeon, Gerrit recognizes that any procedure can potentially be a life-changing event. Surgical procedures to treat vascular disease include aneurysm repair, surgical bypasses, artery angioplasty and stenting.

Operating Room Nurse Karla Gambier prepares a stent, which is a metal tube inserted into a patient’s vessel to keep the passageway open during surgery. During procedures in the new operating rooms, care teams use green lighting, which makes it easier to read the computer monitors.

“The new suites allow our surgical teams to continue to deliver excellent care but with newer, safer technology for everyone involved.”

The new technology makes a difference, says Steve Lucas, Program Manager at the Grey Nuns. 

“For our patients, there is less X-ray exposure and less imaging dye,” Steve says. “Less radiation, less dye and a quicker procedure all add up to a better patient experience.”

While patients might only be in the operating room for a few hours, the new technology is also safer for staff who are exposed daily to the X-ray machine.

“In addition to wearing lead suits, which we’ve always done, the entire room is now lined with lead to provide additional protection outside the operating suite,” says Jackie Campbell, Assistant Head Nurse.

“We’ve also implemented technology that allows live monitoring of exposure.”

Jackie Campbell, Assistant Head Nurse, prepares the dye injector. Surgeons inject dye into patients so they can see a roadmap of the arteries during surgery. Less dye is used with the new technology, which is safer for patients.

The technology from Canon Medical Systems, the first of its kind in Canada, allows surgical teams to deliver both open and minimally invasive procedures in the same room.

“While the operating rooms will primarily be used for vascular surgery, we can easily transition between other types of surgery—from vascular to gynecology to orthopedics—without needing to bring in new equipment,” says Gerrit.

The state-of-the-art operating rooms opened to patients in September 2018. The suites were built in partnership with Alberta Health Services, which provided $10 million in funding to support infrastructure and equipment.

Vascular Health numbers in Alberta

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