PIONEERING new technology is making life-saving surgery for some of Sunderland Royal Hospital’s most poorly patients easier for medics.
The Royal’s new £3million fusion imaging machine is now in place in the endovascular unit, which treats those with potentially deadly aneurysms.
The machine is the only one in the UK and only the second in Europe, with the other in Lille, in France.
The process involves creating 3D images of the patient, which is then shown on a screen in front of the surgeon, making it easier for them to operate.
So far, about 50 patients, many of who have health problems caused by smoking or strokes have been operated on using the technology.
Klaus Overbeck, consultant in vascular surgery in the City Hospitals Sunderland, said: “This machine makes operations much safer and we can now treat complex things much more straightforward.
“Sunderland is now becoming a frontrunner with this technology as it’s only one of two in Europe.
“Because we can see a person’s arteries from the imagine, not as many X-rays are needed and we don’t have to use as much radiation.
“This type of operation is now becoming more day-to-day.”
Mr Overbeck added that the equipment is making the work of staff easier and quicker.
“This is a very, very precise and very advanced piece of machinery,” he said.
“If you took the mask off then you are only able to see the patient’s bones and that makes it much more difficult to locate arteries and navigate through the patient’s body.”
Mr Overbeck, who carries out two procedures a day using the machine, also said that the hospital has changed its approach to how patients are treated.
The Royal, along with Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and James Cook in Middlesbrough, are specialist centres for treatment of vascular patients.
“We’re working as a much more joined up team to treat these patients,” he said.
“As part of the integrated vascular care centre we have set up at the hospital, vascular surgeons and kidney specialists work together with the diabetes doctors too.
“It means we can have regular meetings so that we can discuss these patients and all offer our individual experience on what is the best course of action to take.