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CoxHealth Combines Operating Room, ‘Cath Lab’ in New Hybrid Facility

(Photo credit: KSMU)

The human heart and the body’s blood vessels work seamlessly to keep blood flowing. But when something goes wrong, like trauma to the heart or veins, doctors need to examine both--and sometimes, that needs to be done quickly. A new facility at CoxHealth is making it easier for experts to do that.

Picture this:  a patient is rushed into the Emergency Department, and doctors need to inspect the patient’s vascular system. Traditionally, that was done in the cardiac catherization lab, or “cath lab.”  If that patient needed surgery, then he would have to be moved to the operating room.

But a new, hybrid facility at CoxHealth combines a cath lab and OR.  Becky Watts oversees the cardiovascular services at CoxHealth.

“A hybrid OR is actually a combination of an OR strict, sterile environment with the state-of-the-art imaging that you traditionally have in the cath labs,” said Watts.

The hybrid OR brings together cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and vascular surgeons.

Later this month, Watts said, the health system will perform its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement in this OR.  An aortic valve replacement used to mean open heart surgery.  But not everyone could go through such a major surgery.

“There are some candidates who, for other reasons, are just too sick to be good candidates for surgery:  it can be their age, it can be that they have kidney disease, or diabetes, or some other things that make them at a high risk to be a surgical candidate,” Watts said.

This new procedure will let surgeons replace a patient’s aortic valve using a catheter, and avoiding surgery—meaning more people can get the treatment they desperately need.

The new OR is more than 1,000 square feet in size. It has moving equipment mounted to the ceiling – as well as nearly a dozen flat screen panels, where doctors can see the patient’s imaging results, images being captured in surgery, vital signs, and the patient’s medical record.

The new operating room is located at Cox Medical Center South.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Davidson.