St Andrew’s state-of-the-art Hybrid Theatre now operating

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s new state-of-the-art Hybrid Theatre, the first such theatre in a private hospital in Queensland, is now fully operational.

The $3 million Hybrid Theatre is part of a $5 million project to redevelop and upgrade the hospital’s operating theatre facilities.

UnitingCare Health Deputy Chief Medical Officer and St Andrew’s Director of Medical Services, Dr Christian Rowan, said the new Hybrid Theatre was equipped with sophisticated medical imaging technologies which allowed specialists to perform highly complex surgeries through small incisions, resulting in less discomfort, faster recovery times and fewer risks for patients with multiple medical conditions.
“Advances in X-ray, CT scanning and other medical imaging technologies have made it possible to diagnose and treat patients for a range of diseases through minimally-invasive surgical techniques in which targeted areas of the body are accessed via major arteries,” Dr Rowan said.

“The Hybrid Theatre at St Andrew’s allows our cardiovascular, vascular and neurological surgical teams to perform both these minimally-invasive, image-guided endovascular procedures as well as traditional open surgery.
“In some cases, patients require both types of surgery and this can now be done in the one theatre session under a single anaesthetic, rather than in several stages in different theatre facilities within the hospital.”

The new Hybrid Theatre incorporates advanced flexible imaging equipment and software from Philips Healthcare, with the generator and flat panel detector technologies the first to be installed anywhere in the world.

The system provides high-quality, high-resolution X-rays and three-dimensional images of anatomy and soft tissue while substantially reducing radiation doses.

St Andrew’s Director of Vascular Surgery Dr Andrew Cartmill, who performed the first procedures in the Hybrid Theatre last week, said the resolution and clarity of images was the best he had ever seen.
“The detail is quite incredible,” he said. “What we can see very clearly on the screen is blood vessels which are fractions of a millimetre in diameter. Tiny vessels through the heart, brain, and legs right down to the very tips of the toes. “While it is the larger arteries that we operate on, that kind of image clarity is what provides us greater success in guiding wires through artery blockages and then reopening the arteries which feed those minute vessels.”

One of the first procedures Dr Cartmill performed in the new theatre was a “true hybrid case”. “The patient had acute ischaemia in her leg, which is a lack of blood flow to the limb,” he said.

“An angiogram revealed a blood clot in an artery, so we performed an open surgery to clean the artery and remove the clot. We then performed endovascular surgery, inserting a stent to keep open the artery which had narrowed around the knee, causing the blood clot in the first place.

“Traditionally this sort of case would have been done in separate stages, in a radiology suite and an operating theatre, and likely on separate days. In the Hybrid Theatre it can be done in one session, reducing the theatre time for the patient, anaesthetic risk, and the length of their stay in hospital.”

Dr Rowan said the Hybrid Theatre would be used for a wide range of surgeries and procedures at St Andrew’s, including use of the latest laser technology to extract cardiac pacemaker and defibrillator leads which have become encased in scar tissue.

St Andrew’s cardiologist Dr John Hayes is one of a handful of electrophysiology (EP) specialists in Australia certified to perform lead extraction surgery using laser energy.