French Hospital unveils new hybrid cardiac surgery room

dsneed@thetribunenews.comApril 29, 2014 

French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo has unveiled an advanced cardiac surgery suite that integrates full surgical technology with sophisticated imaging capabilities.

French is the only hospital in the county with a hybrid cardiac surgery suite, which allows different teams of specialists, such as surgeons and radiologists, to treat a patient at the same time.

In addition to performing surgery, the room is equipped to conduct CT scans, x-rays and other imaging procedures without moving the patient.

Named the George Hoag Family Advanced Hybrid Surgical Suite after a major donor, the facility is specially designed for surgeons to perform minimally-invasive cardiac surgery using small incisions instead of opening a patient’s chest to access the heart.

“We are able to do more for our patients in a less invasive way,” surgeon Jim Paulsen said.

As more cardiac surgeries are done through minimally-invasive techniques, hospitals nationwide have been building hybrid surgical suites to facilitate the trend. Sierra Vista Medical Center in San Luis Obispo is developing plans to build a hybrid operating room due to be operational in 2015, hospital spokesman Ron Yukelson said.

One of the procedures that can be performed in the French Hospital hybrid surgical suite is an aortic valve replacement. A small incision is made in the groin and a catheter is inserted and sent up to the heart valve to replace it.

Such catheterization operations are often state-of-the-art procedures. For example, the catheter aortic valve replacement only received federal approval in 2011.

These less invasive surgeries reduce the typical stay of a patient in the hospital from four days to one or two days. They also reduce the amount of pain suffered by patients and decrease risk of infection because they involve smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time.

The surgery unit adjoins a catheterization unit so that if a patient undergoing a catheter procedure requires a more invasive operation it can be done in the same suite without moving the patient, which can save time, said Megan Maloney, hospital spokeswoman.

Cardiologist Michael Famularo said the hybrid arrangement also promotes greater collaboration between specialties. The new surgical suite at French Hospital is the latest addition to its cardiac care center, which the hospital has been improving over the past seven years.

The hybrid facility was licensed by the state April 25 but has not been used yet, said cardiothoracic surgeon Luke Faber. The suite cost more than $8 million, several million dollars of which was obtained via donations such as the one from the Hoag family.

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