Hybrid theatre a medical milestone

LAUNCESTON General Hospital acting director of surgery Brian Kirkby says a new multimillion- dollar hybrid theatre will push the boundaries of medicine when they start using it later this year.

The hybrid theatre, complete with an Australian-first $1.5million X-ray machine, will form part of the hospital's new theatre suite on level five.

Dr Kirkby said the machine, which can move in various directions across the theatre, would transform the way he did his job and improve patient outcomes.

He said the surgery team currently had to move a patient - sometimes repeatedly - between the surgery theatre and X-ray facilities, located on different floors.

"This will enable us to deal with those sick patients and do investigations and things to stop bleeding, without having to transfer them," he said.

Dr Kirkby said the machine allowed X-rays to be taken in real time, so surgeons could navigate wires and catheters through arteries and other tubes in the body.

He said that while the machine was the second of its model in Australia, it was the first to feature two 132-centimetre television screens.

"The screens are very heavy, they weigh 300 kilos, and they are very high-quality, high- definition imaging," he said.

Dr Kirkby said Philips, the machine's manufacturer, had asked the hospital to be a reference site for the machine, meaning that other hospitals and specialists interested in installing a hybrid theatre would come to watch them use it.

He said the theatre was unique, in that it was set up to do not only vascular surgeries, but orthopaedics, urology and other procedures.

"We are pushing the boundaries as far as we can with how we've structured the room," he said.

Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said the five existing theatres would be taken off-line for refurbishment once the new theatres were completed.

She said other work at the hospital included the building of an 18-bed intensive care unit, department of surgery offices, medical staff common room, surgery change rooms, an ambulatory care surgical unit and central sterilising department.

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