Operating Rooms of the Future Here Today

Operating Rooms of the Future Here TodayThe spacious room glows as sunlight streams through the large windows. There's a country-western tune softly playing. A host of flat screen TVs flash information. A double-bypass cardiac operation is in progress.

Richard Neibart, M. D., chief of cardiac surgery, is meticulously grafting two new blood vessels to bypass the blockages in the patient's heart. A camera mounted in the overhead light relays his precise movements to monitors located around the operating room, including the computer monitor at the station where circulating nurse Girlie Castillion, R. N., sits.

Other flat screen monitors around the room show the 51-year-old patient's vital signs. Four large booms attached to the ceiling hold all the electrical wires running to the surgical equipment in the room, keeping floor clear of wire. These booms can be positioned around the operating table, as needed.

One boom holds all the mechanics for the anesthesiologist's station, monitored by Barry Ray, M. D., at the head of the operating table. Another holds the equipment for the team's perfusionist, James Mullaney, to run the heart-lung machine that keeps the patient's blood circulating during the operation.

To Dr. Neibart, there really is no comparison between this new operating room at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and the older ORs.

"This is 21st century technology," Dr. Neibart said. "The difference between the two is like driving this year's model Mercedes-Benz and driving a 56 Chevy. The new operating rooms are state-of-the-art. We can't ask for better. "

There are six new surgery suites in Jersey Shore's new Mildred Rosa Diagnostic and Treatment Pavilion, which is part of the hospital's expansion project. The new suites provide surgeons and operating room staff with a fully integrated, high-tech operating room environment.

The first operating in a new suite – a knee replacement, was performed several months ago by John Michael Tozzi, M. D., chairman of Jersey Shore's orthopedic surgery department. Tozzi said he was struck by the "expansive space" and the large windows providing natural light, along with the new technology.

"We now have the capability to videoconference with other surgeons when working on a difficult or complex surgery," Dr. Tozzi said. He added the new format of the OR also makes it easier for surgeons to coordinate with the anesthesiologist.

Dr. Neibart's surgical team has been using two of the cardiac operating rooms for the past two months. The team – which, along with Ray and Mullaney, includes scrub nurse Robert Bradford, R. N., and physician's assistant Matt Petrides – has worked together for 10 years. The hospital has been averaging 850 to 900 heart operations a year for several years now and is regularly ranked among the top performers in the nation, Dr. Neibart said.

These surgical suites were built to provide patients with the best possible care and the surgical team with the ultimate in ease and convenience. The team is able to easily regulate the surgical lights, control the equipment used during laparoscopic procedures, take pictures, video, or DVDs to document pathology.

The numerous LCD flat screen monitors serve many uses. Scrub nurses and medical students can use the monitors to watch the operation without having to lean over the surgeon to see the procedure. The monitors help the anesthesiologist track how the patient is doing. Besides showing the patient's vital signs, the surgical team can call up the patient's X-rays, MRI, or CAT scans on the screen from all other departments in the hospital.

The air flow coming into the surgical room is carefully controlled. "It's designed to flow up and outwards, away from the operating table," Mullaney said. This design helps to fight infection.

Circulating nurse Castillion has her own favorite feature of the new OR: "The music!" The team selects what music to play in the OR and at Dr. Neibart's request, it has to include plenty of country and western. For Dr. Tozzi and his surgical team, the playlist alternates between classic rock and classical music.

Other surgical suites in the new building will house orthopedic operating rooms and a hybrid OR. In the hybrid operating room, a high-risk patient can undergo a common procedure like catheterization, and if the patient develops a complication, the surgeons can then immediately operate "without having to look for or wait for another OR to open up," Dr. Neibart said.

This hybrid operating room is equipped with Biplane digital imaging system which allows physicians to perform non-invasive interventional procedures and/or open surgical procedures. The open and spacious environment allows doctors from across different specialties to work together during procedures. This hybrid suite has a custom-designed imaging system that integrates intravascular ultrasound, dynamic CT imaging, angiography, and other imaging technologies.

"We'll be able to do both the routine procedures and the more complicated surgery all in one room. With heart patients, a wait of 20 minutes can be critical. This hybrid OR eliminates the wait between procedures," Dr. Neibart said.

Tozzi said the new surgical suites give Jersey Shore a foundation for future innovations.

"We now have the technology in the OR that we can build on for the future," Dr. Tozzi said.