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Revolutionary Hybrid Operating Theatre at Alder Hey

A new, specially designed ‘hybrid’ operating theatre has been opened at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the first of its kind in a stand-alone paediatric setting in the UK.

A hybrid theatre is so called because it contains all the high tech equipment and software required to perform high resolution diagnostic imaging and operations at the same time. Alder Hey’s new theatre is the first in the country suitable for operating on children from different specialties including heart, brain or spinal surgery.

Access to high resolution imaging in theatre means the surgical team has much more information available to them in real time during an operation. Operations can take less time and there is no need to move the patient out of theatre for a scan which reduces infection risks. High quality 360 imaging and BrainLab navigation systems ensure much more precise diagnosis and surgery, significantly increasing survival rates. This software and technology helps to minimise potential side effects of surgery and exposure to radiation, while reducing the need for repeat operations and the number of times a child needs to be anaesthetised. State of the art imaging also enables minimally invasive surgery to take place by providing a clear visual of a small area. Rather than performing open surgery, surgeons are therefore able to access this small part of the body using a catheter or endoscope. The size of the theatre is also helpful as it provides more space for a greater amount of equipment and more clinicians, which can be particularly helpful during intensive procedures.

Rafael Guerrero, Congenital Cardiac Surgeon at Alder Hey said: “This is the first hybrid theatre of its kind in the UK. The concept of this theatre, along with its room design and the type of equipment required, was carefully selected so that different types of operations, whether they be on the brain, spine or heart, can be done within the same environment. We have created a new type of theatre which is cost effective and also is an example for other hospitals around the U.K and worldwide in how to maximise resources in times of financial constraint.”

Hybrid’s one room solution allows more complex surgery to be attempted in the safest possible surgical environment for children and young people.  This is incredibly important at Alder Hey which is one of the very few national paediatric centres in the NHS that performs brain, heart, craniofacial and trauma surgery. The new theatre at Alder Hey is equipped to treat around 200 children every year for a variety of serious conditions, including patients requiring complex paediatric heart surgery, brain surgery, spinal operations and life-saving emergency care.

The first child to be operated on in the new theatre was a cardiac patient requiring complex cardiac surgery in January. On the 3rd February 2016, Alder Hey neurosurgeons used the hybrid theatre at Alder Hey for the first time. 22 month old Felicity Dawe has a rare congenital tumour and required a scan ahead of complex surgery to correct severe deformity in her neck. Felicity was given a CT scan in the hybrid theatre using its specialist halo equipment while critical neuro monitoring takes place. This was much safer for Felicity as being scanned with halo positioning in the theatre greatly reduces risk of paralysis for a patient with her condition. Her scans will now be used by surgeons to precisely plan her operation. Felicity will return to the hybrid theatre in a couple of months to have life changing surgery.

Benedetta Pettorini, Neurosurgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital explains: “As a surgeon this is the best possible operating environment I could ask for. Here at Alder Hey we are at the cutting edge of paediatric care. This hybrid theatre will allow us to provide the highest levels of care to children like Felicity who have very complex conditions and require very delicate scanning procedures and extremely precise surgery. State of the art surgical equipment, the very latest technology and imaging software, together with an operating table specifically designed to be suitable for a variety of procedures and surgical techniques could potentially save lives and reduce risks of further injuries or complications.”

The new hybrid operating theatre cost £1.23m and has been made possible thanks to funding provided by Alder Hey Children’s Charity.

Clare White from Alder Hey Children’s Charity said: “Alder Hey Children’s Charity helps fund vital and life-saving equipment for the hospital and we are very proud to have been able to support this project. We are incredibly grateful to all our donors, particularly to David and Maureen Speakman who gave over £600,000 towards this facility. We are very lucky to have some of the best surgeons at Alder Hey and now they have world class theatres to match.”

The new Alder Hey Hospital opened in 2015 and has 16 theatres which already benefit from the latest technology, including dedicated screens for laparoscopic procedures and a fully integrated cross-theatre system that allows surgeons to communicate and send images to each other for real-time advice during procedures.

Rob Griffiths, Service Manager for Theatres at Alder Hey said: “The theatre team have worked hard to ensure that the new hybrid theatre can safely accommodate the needs of children requiring different types of specialist surgery. This is the latest innovation in theatres here at Alder Hey and will benefit hundreds of patients from across the UK.”

Rick Turnock, Medical Director said; “Alder Hey moved into a new hospital in October 2015 and it was vitally important to ensure that we had world class theatres to match our brand new state of the art facilities. Thanks to the efforts of our clinicians alongside strategic partnerships with multi-national technological companies and valuable support from our Charity, Alder Hey has some of the best theatres in the country.”

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