Gold Coast University Hospital

Five life-saving technologies used in Gold Coast hospitals

Jane Saunders | April 2019

From space-aged robots to seemingly low-fi snorkels, Gold Coast hospitals are implementing innovative technologies to improve patient health and quality of life.

Gold Coast University Hospital pioneers heart care for breast cancer patients

Breast cancer patients are receiving extra protection at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) thanks to new technology now in place.

For patients with left sided breast cancer, one of the treatment risks is radiation being delivered to the heart. GCUH is one of the first facilities in Queensland using the new Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) technology to reduce the impact of radiation beams on a patient’s heart during breast cancer treatment.

The DIBH technique uses an innovative snorkel device to monitor patient breathing during treatment. The snorkel is integrated with the radiation application technology and immediately prior to the administration of the radiation dose, the snorkel signals to the patient to take a deep breath to fill the lungs with air. Expanding the lungs causes the heart to shift away from the radiation beams, thus reducing the amount of radiation exposure to the heart.

Acting General Manager of Cancer Access and Support Services at GCUH, Lisa Roberts says the DIBH process enables a more precise radiation therapy that will benefit the patient’s quality of life post cancer treatment.

“Quality of life is the most important thing we can provide for our patients after treating their cancer,” she says.

“Our new innovations are focused on improving the quality of survival of patients by reducing long-term side effects, not just addressing the cancer. Breast cancer patients are living much longer, so our focus is shifting from pure treatment to quality of survival and minimising the long term side effects of treatment”.

DIBH at GCUH is provided in collaboration with the Radiation Oncology Centre (ROC).

Gold Coast Private is at the forefront of robotic surgical systems

The new Gold Coast Private Hospital is thrilled to be the first hospital on the Gold Coast to offer the latest in advanced robotic surgical technology.

The jewel in the crown is the $3 million da Vinci Xi Surgical System which can be used across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures and has been optimised for multi-quadrant surgeries in the areas of gynaecology, urology, thoracic, cardiac and general surgery.

Gold Coast Private General Manager David Harper says robotics has been a focus for Gold Coast Private Hospital.

“Over the past decade there has been significant advances in surgical treatment procedures and it has always been our goal to provide patients with minimally invasive surgical options through robotics,” he says.

“This latest system has broader capabilities than prior generations of the da Vinci, allowing surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control”.

The system enables efficient access through the abdomen or chest, more precise movements through its intuitive motion and ergonomic design, and a highly magnified view, virtually extending surgeons’ eyes and hands.

“While our doctors remain 100 per cent in control of the surgery, the robots have small wrist instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist and the software can minimise the effects of a surgeon’s hand tremors on instrument movements,” Harper says.

Gold Coast Private Hospital’s state of the art incubators give premature babies the best start to life

Gold Coast Private Hospital is also providing enhanced care for premature and sick newborns and is the only hospital on the Gold Coast with the latest state-of-the-art Giraffe incubators.

“The Giraffe incubators combine a number of advanced technologies to provide a hi-tech healing micro-environment for the newborns,” says Gold Coast Private maternity unit manager, Judy Ross.

“Features include an in-built monitoring system that includes heat pads and baby scales allowing babies to be electronically weighed inside the cot without needing to be disturbed”

Previous cots have required moving the baby outside to be weighed on cold scales, which can be traumatic, particularly for a premature baby, so this is a big advantage of the new Giraffe incubators.

Five of the hi-tech cots are in the hospital’s special care unit which is equipped to admit up to nine babies, from 32 weeks gestation, and also features a Hamilton Neonatal Ventilator, Bubble CPAP and two Panda emergency resuscitation beds.

“The cots can also be used with fibre-optic Biliblankets to maintain phototherapy treatment for jaundice, even while the mother is enjoying skin-to-skin contact with her baby,” says Judy.

Robotic arm surgeries at John Flynn Hospital transform the orthopaedic industry

John Flynn Private Hospital’s surgeon controlled robotic arm is set to transform the orthopaedic industry.

The recently acquired Stryker robotic-arm surgical system utilising Mako technology is the latest innovation for total hip replacement and knee surgeries.

The surgical arm enables the surgeon to complete a patient specific pre-surgical plan, assessing bone preparation areas and customised implant positioning using a CT scan of the patient’s own knee or hip.

During the procedure, the robotic system creates a three-dimensional, virtual view of the patient’s bone surface and correlates the image to the pre-programmed surgical plan.

As the surgeon uses the robotic arm, its tactile, auditory and visual feedback limits the bone preparation to the diseased areas and provides for real time adjustments and more optimal implant positioning and placement for each individual patient.

Through its innovative use of technology the robotic-arm assisted surgery takes minimally invasive knee resurfacing and total hip replacements to a new level of precision, when compared to manual techniques.

Post surgery the system is credited for quicker patient recovery times and return of natural feelings and function.

Pindara Private Hospital technology reveals the secrets of the small intestine

Pindara Private Hospital is taking on the ‘final frontier’ of gastrointestinal tract surgery with the launch of a new endoscopy scope.

The small intestine is currently the most inaccessible part of the gastrointestinal tract making it hard to treat when problems arise. Traditionally, to investigate and perform procedures in parts of the small intestine not accessible from a standard gastroscopy or colonoscopy, invasive procedures such as open surgery would need to be performed.

This will no longer be the case as Pindara Private Hospital prepares to offer the first Double Balloon Entersocopy procedure on the Gold Coast,

Double Balloon Enteroscopy (also known as Push-Pull Enteroscopy), is a non-invasive endoscopic technique enabling the visualisation of the small intestine.

This procedure places two balloons about a foot apart inside the wriggly and mobile small intestine to effectively anchor the long thin scope in position allowing a complete examination of the small bowel. When necessary, interventional procedures can also be completed.

“It is used to get biopsies from the small intestine and do procedures like treating bleeding lesions, taking off polyps, putting in stents and using balloon devices to stretch narrowing,” says Gastroenterologist Michael Murray.

This technology is also in high demand in an ever increasing group of patients who have an altered gastrointestinal anatomy due to weight loss surgery.

“Procedures to get gallstones, for example, can be done in patients that have had a gastric bypass where their normal anatomy has been disconnected. So from that point of view, it is a growing area,” he says.

As it is a non-invasive procedure, Double-Balloon Enteroscopy is associated with minimal discomfort and a very low complication rate allowing patients to have a shorter recovery time.

“The principle of endoscopy is to do things all internally without cuts to the abdomen so patients get over the procedures really quickly. This new procedure adds to our ability to perform interventional treatments more easily and successfully,” says Doctor Murray.

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