It looks like something from “Lost in Space” or “Star Trek,” but the mechanical white arms holding screens, lights and imaging technology inside Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis are part of the hospital’s new hybrid operating room.
A $4.5 million project, the hybrid operating room takes up the space of two typical operating rooms. It will allow physicians to perform minimally invasive procedures and imaging in the same operating room and at the same time. Before that, patients may have had to make a trip to radiology before heading to the operating room for a procedure.
“The hybrid allows you to take the fixed imaging that was formerly only found in radiology and put it in a sterile operating environment,” said Sherry Hausmann, a senior administrator for Via Christi hospitals in Wichita.
“(Before) where you had to open the patient very invasively, you can now ... have minimally invasive procedures using wires and going through vessels.”
The push to bring the hybrid operating room to the hospital was primarily from local physicians, Hausmann said. The operating room will include catheter lab equipment, an anesthesia machine, special lighting, a video and monitoring system and CT scan that provides a 3D image of the heart and its vessels.
There are about 125 hybrid operating rooms in the U.S., Hausmann said. The new operating room will be finished around the third week of August.
The new operating room will allow for physicians at Via Christi to perform several procedures, including some that are not currently available at the hospital, Hausmann said. They will start with some heart procedures and eventually expand to neurological, orthopedic and others once more physicians receive training.
One of the new procedures that physicians will be able to perform in the hybrid operating room is a transcatheter aortic valve replacement for patients whose heart valves don’t open all the way.
For the procedure, a physician inserts a folded valve into an artery in the patient’s groin and moves it all the way to the heart, where it can be expanded once it’s in place.
In the past, most people with the condition lived for only a couple of years after the onset of symptoms. People with this condition used to be considered inoperable because of the risks associated with opening the patient for surgery. While it’s still risky, it’s less invasive, said Darrell Youngman, an independent cardiologist who is also the physician service line administrator for Via Christi.
“We’re getting an older population with diseases of older people, a lot of which is valvular disease, so it’s something growing in numbers,” Youngman said. “These same people coming up with these diseases have a lot of other co-morbidities, so to do a full surgery is highly risky.
“This technology allows you to approach those people and give them a curative procedure without opening their chest in light of all of their medical conditions,” Youngman said.
If there are complications, a fully scrubbed-in surgeon is present during the procedure, Youngman said.
The eventual goal is to have about 20 valve replacement surgeries a year, Youngman said.
“Even though it’s a low-volume, high-risk procedure, it’s not a big moneymaker for the hospital,” Youngman said.
But before they can begin performing that particular procedure in the operating room, physicians will need to identify six candidates from the Heart Valve Clinic the hospital opened earlier this month who they think would benefit from the procedure.
Once they have six candidates, a team of surgeons and cardiologists will visit the valve manufacturer for training, and the manufacturer will send proctors to oversee the six procedures at Via Christi.
In addition to those who will receive the training, Bassem Chehab, a structural heart specialist, has joined Cardiovascular Consultants of Kansas and signed on to be the medical director for the structural heart program.