Surgeons operating at St George’s Hospital in Christchurch are using advanced imaging technology which lights up their patient’s anatomy with fluorescent dye, isolating very small tumours and cancer cells that can’t be seen with the human eye.

The technology will be on display at the official opening of St George’s Hospital Cressy Wing this week (Friday 2 July). The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, will be onsite for the occasion and given a tour of the new wing.

The Cressy Wing houses state-of-the-art digital operating theatres, a new maternity centre, laundry, and medical supply room. It is the fourth and final building to be constructed as part of St George’s eight-year redevelopment triggered by the Canterbury earthquakes.

Increasing demand for the Hospital’s services is driven by its new theatre technology, such as the fluorescent imaging system which can be used in all 12 operating theatres (including those in the new Cressy Wing).

Renowned Christchurch surgeon Harsh Singh was one of the first cardiothoracic surgeons in New Zealand to use the new fluorescent imaging system, which is called the 1688 Advanced Imaging Modalities (AIM) Platform.

Mr Singh uses the technology to help identify and remove lung tumours and growths and says patient outcomes are significantly improved.

“The fluorescence feature lights up the nodules so they turn a bright green, which means we can easily pinpoint where they are and excise them during surgery. It essentially provides us with a combined diagnostic and treatment tool, using a minimally invasive procedure,” says Mr Singh.

“Previously, we would often need to do lots of repeated CT scans after surgery to ensure we removed all the nodules, which would lead to prolonged patient anxiety and follow-up. We can now provide our patients with a conclusive diagnosis.”

The 1688 AIM platform can be used for a variety of surgical procedures to identify critical anatomy. It also enables surgeons to see blood, lymphatic fluid, or bile as it flows through the body in real-time.

In addition, St George’s 12 operating theatres are now all digital. High-resolution video technology provides surgeons with unparalleled vision inside the human body, with images transmitted in real time via large screens in the operating theatre.

St George’s Chief Executive Officer Blair Roxborough says, “The completion of Cressy Wing means surgeons can perform more complicated and life-saving procedures and achieve better clinical outcomes – for the direct benefit of our patients.

“We are already seeing increased demand from surgeons choosing to operate here, which is directly related to our new facilities and equipment. This is further supported by the fact that we have Christchurch’s only private hospital-based intensive care and isolation unit.”

Demand for St George’s services is also being driven by its new Maternity Centre, which is part of the new Cressy Wing. Two hundred and eighty-four babies have been born at St George’s Maternity Centre – a community birthing and postnatal facility – since it opened in late November last year.

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