XBOX IN THE O.R.
Dr. Calvin Law, a liver cancer surgeon at Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre, is standing in front of an Xbox Kinect, waving his hands in the air and having a great time. But Dr. Law isn't playing video games; he's working in a live operating room.
It's a clever new application for this gaming system, allowing surgeons like Dr. Law to manipulate medical images, like CT scans, with the wave of a hand. And the benefits are huge. Usually, a patient's imaging is located on a computer screen outside the sterile area of the OR, meaning surgeons can't directly adjust the view. But thanks to the creative thinking of Matt Strickland, a general surgery resident and engineer who co-developed this innovation with colleagues Jamie Tremaine and Greg Brigley, that's changing.
"For all surgeries, especially cancer surgeries we do today, image guidance is key to helping the surgeon pinpoint the tumour and to save as much healthy tissue as possible," says Dr. Law. "It's like GPS for your car. This is going to change the way we interact with our imaging in the operating room, potentially forever."
SMALL PILL, BIG DIFFERENCE
After hip or knee replacement surgery, patients risk developing blood clots in their veins, or having one of those clots travel from their legs to their lungs, which can be fatal.
Dr. John Murnaghan, associate scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Dr. W. Geerts of the Thromboembolism Service have been studying the the use of Rivaroxaban (trade name Xarelto), a new oral anticoagulant approved by Health Canada in 2008, but still not widely used. Until recently, doctors used the anticoagulant Coumadin to prevent clot-related conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). But it takes several days to take effect and not all patients achieve a therapeutic level of anticoagulation by the time they are discharged.
Dr. Murnaghan and his group has followed-up the results of Rivaroxaban on 700 joint-replacement patients for a three-month period since June of 2010. Early results are promising, he says. "It seems to be minimizing the complications we're trying to avoid without creating another whole group of problems."
GPS TECHNOLOGY IS CLOSER TO THE HEART
A new, high-tech robotic lab is helping cardiologists at Schulich Heart Centre zap away patients' irregular heart rhythms with exact precision to restore normal heart function. "Our new lab is home to a cutting-edge system from Stereotaxis that uses computerized, magnet-guided technology to enhance the precision and safety of heart procedures," says Dr. Eugene Crystal, cardiologist and Director of Arrhythmia Services. "It is revolutionizing how we treat our patients with cardiac arrhythmias."
Cardiac arrhythmias occur when the electricity that flows through the heart to trigger the pumping action 'short circuits' or gets blocked - disturbing the heart's normal rhythm. If left untreated, it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
During the procedure, powerful magnets are positioned near the patient while a cardiologist operates the system from a control room. GPS technology enables the physician to pinpoint the precise location of the faulty electrical site, position the catheter there and deliver the required treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm.
THE VIRTUAL PHARMACIST
It's a cool green machine that looks like an ATM, but instead of handing out bills, it dispenses pills.
In partnership with remote-health care technology provider PharmaTrust, Sunnybrook's Holland Centre is one of the first locations to house a MedCentre kiosk. It provides patients with virtual access to a full range of pharmacy services before they leave the hospital after hip or knee replacement surgery. The kiosk uses advanced robotics, scanning, and live videoconferencing to connect patients to a pharmacist in another location. The pharmacist, using a digital scan of a prescription, advises on the medication, answers questions and then directs MedCentre to release the medication to the patient.
Due to the project's success, the collaboration is set to launch version 3.0 of MedCentre at the Holland, which will be three times faster, dispensing medication in less than a minute. The new machine has the capacity for more than 2,000 different medications.