An upgraded integrated hybrid theatre equipped with Gauteng province’s first ARTIS pheno robot-supported angiography system for the diagnosis and treatment of a range medical conditions, including the most complex vascular cases, is now fully operational at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg.
“This is the second Siemens ARTIS pheno system to have been installed at a Netcare hospital in South Africa, the first having been installed at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town last year. The two Artis pheno systems are also the first in Africa, and among the very first in the world, keeping South Africa at the cutting edge of medical technology internationally,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.
“The patient-centric ARTIS pheno system enables a wide range of diagnostic and intricate image-guided minimally invasive surgical interventions to be undertaken. It is specially designed for the modern hybrid theatre and to serve patients who suffer from multiple medical conditions and larger individuals,” adds Du Plessis.
“The acquisition of this equipment is a major investment by Netcare in the quality of care we are committed to providing our patients. We regard the commissioning of this system, which we have carefully researched, as the most advanced and versatile technology of its kind available. We therefore view this as an important advancement for medicine on the continent,” he observes.
Du Plessis explains that angiogram technology is a form of medical imaging used to visualise the inside of blood vessels and organs. Due to its advanced, highly practical and compact design, the multi-purpose ARTIS pheno system is ideal for use in a hybrid theatre, which is a theatre designed to enable simultaneous interventions as well as open surgery, such as that established at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.
“The equipment provides medical specialists with the highest quality three-dimensional imaging of any part of the human body. This can be used to more accurately diagnose and assess conditions, as well as to precisely guide a range of different types of endovascular, cardiac and other treatment interventions,” he notes.
According to Du Plessis, vascular surgeons are currently exclusively using, and being trained in the ARTIS pheno technology at the two Netcare hospitals, however, it can be used in all fields of medicine including cardiology, urology, orthopaedics, neurology and trauma, among others. The vascular surgeons who practise at and will be using the new system at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital include Dr Pradeep Mistry, Dr Dirk le Roux and Prof Lewis Levien.
“The acquisition of this equipment has not only generated a great deal of interest from our vascular surgeons, but also among the other interventional specialists who practise at the two hospitals where it has been installed. We have, for example, had interventional cardiologists express an interest in using it to assist them with minimally invasive heart valve replacement. We look forward to expanding its use into other fields of medicine,” observes Du Plessis.
Dr Mistry says the ARTIS pheno system enables endovascular and cardiovascular surgeons at the hospital to visualise and treat even the very smallest diseased vessels and anatomy with a great degree of precision. It also allows interventions to be accurately planned and performed via tiny incisions in the skin, thereby avoiding the larger surgical incisions that are used in traditional open surgery.
“These minimally invasive interventions, as they are known, mean that patients tend to suffer less post-surgery discomfort and are able to get back on their feet much more quickly. They are also safer to use in more vulnerable patients whose health is severely compromised for one or more reasons. These kinds of procedures are becoming increasingly popular among patients and referring doctors both locally and around the world,” notes Dr Mistry.
“With a growing aging population in South Africa, there has been an increased demand in recent years for the treatment of highly complicated endovascular and cardiovascular cases, which may involve patients who are not only highly vulnerable from a health perspective, but who also often suffer from a number of simultaneous, or co-morbid, health conditions. This technology, which can be fitted with a complete range of optional software applications, is ideal for the treatment of such patients,” he adds.
Dr Mistry says the new system has already assisted the team at the hospital to perform some highly intricate endovascular procedures to treat problems and diseases impacting the blood vessels, such as aneurysms, which is when a weakened section of blood vessel ‘balloons’, and threatens to burst.
“Using this state-of-the-art angiography system we are able to overlay angiographic studies with CT [computed tomography] scans to provide a highly accurate pre-procedure assessment of even the most complex of cases. We are able to fully customise our planning to align with the condition of each individual patient prior to undertaking the endovascular procedure.
“In addition, the technology and its software provides us with a great deal of intraoperative guidance for the specific procedure we are undertaking, and provides us with many more therapy options and possibilities,” observes Dr Mistry.
The angiography device can scan up to 15 percent faster than other such systems, which meaningfully reduces radiation exposure to both the patients and the treatment team, according to Dr Mistry. The shortened scan times also reduce patient exposure to the contrast agent that is used.
Netcare Sunninghill Hospital general manager, Pieter Louw, says that the facility’s upgraded hybrid theatre with its improved design and world-class technologies such as the ARTIS pheno system, makes the best possible tools available to its surgeons, and interventional specialists.
Louw says that the upgraded hybrid theatre is likely to encourage the referral of more patients from South Africa and the African continent to Netcare Sunninghill Hospital cardiovascular centre.
“The technology and facilities on offer at the new theatre will assist in further improving the hospital’s already outstanding treatment outcomes in cardiovascular surgery and other fields, and will also assist in reducing the length of hospital stays,” he concludes.