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Victoria General Hospital aims to buy new surgery equipment

May 26 2012

Victoria General Hospital hopes to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to make surgeries less invasive with funds raised by a campaign that launched Friday.

The $390,000 the Victoria Hospitals Foundation hopes to raise will be used to buy four new surgery "towers." The machines allow surgeries to be performed in a minimally invasive way, using a slender tube and camera that surgeons can insert into patients. An image is then relayed to high-resolution monitors, allowing surgeons to operate. Incisions are closed with just a few stitches.

"As a doctor, I abide by the principle of do no harm," said Dr. Will Orrom, medical director of surgical services at VGH. "By creating a smaller incision, I know my patients will experience less pain, need less medication and be back on their feet in a few days."

The machines can be used for various laparoscopic operations, including those in general surgery, orthopedics and gynecology.

"The need is serious," Orrom said. "As our equipment deteriorates, we begin to see malfunction in it."

There are significant advantages for patients when surgeons use minimally invasive surgical techniques as opposed to open surgeries, he said, adding that in general surgery, minimally invasive techniques are used in about 70 per cent of cases.

While open-technique surgeries can mean weeks of recovery, laparoscopic surgeries often have patients home in days. "The difference with recovery time is huge," Orrom said.

The new equipment will allow for more efficient procedures - the machines are wireless, so they'll be fairly compact and require less cabling on the floor. A smaller footprint makes a big difference in a small operating room, Orrom said.

In Victoria, most people have family members who will benefit from the equipment at some point, he said.

Laparoscopy became popular in the late 1980s and is often considered the preferred surgical technique.

Clinical nurse leader Connor Abbott said the surgical machines will be invaluable for hospital staff.

"It's allowing for higher-resolution screens and better-quality cameras to better identify a patient's anatomy," he said. "The machines will be used every day."

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation conducts two fundraising initiatives each year for the Royal Jubilee and Victoria General. Last spring, $361,000 was raised to purchase a new neuronavigation system at Victoria General. The system creates a 3-D map of a patient's body, compiling images taken by X-rays, CT scans and MRIs.