VGH to pioneer robot-assisted surgery in Western Canada

    Donor-funded equipment to bolster world-class surgical techniques,
    innovation for patients from across B.C.

    VANCOUVER, June 21 /CNW/ - Vancouver General Hospital ushers in a new era
of surgical innovation with the donor-funded purchase of a new, futuristic
surgical robot. Made possible through a lead gift of $3 million from Jack
Poole and a generous gift of $1.5 million from Jim Pattison, the leading-edge
equipment -- Western Canada's first multipurpose robot -- will deliver greater
benefits for patients and new opportunities to develop even more breakthrough
surgical techniques in B.C.
    "This sophisticated robotic technology allows the surgeon to accurately
work in unaccommodating, tight parts of the body such as inside the pelvis or
the chest" said Dr. Larry Goldenberg, OBC, Professor and Head, Department of
Urologic Sciences, VGH and UBC and Director, Clinical Research, Prostate
Center at VGH. "The computerized robotic system brings surgery into the modern
world of bits and bytes, providing our visionary researchers with an
opportunity to take surgery to the 'next level' by fusing surgical technology
with digital information from other sources such as preoperative CT scans or
MRI studies."
    The da Vinci(R) robotic surgical system is expected to be up and running
at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH)-part of Vancouver Coastal Health-in the
fall. During the initial three-year first phase of operation, surgeons at VGH
will use the robot to perform specific surgical procedures in urology, cardiac
surgery and gynecology.
    Robot-assisted surgery offers patients fewer surgical complications, less
post-operative pain, faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays and
improved health outcomes. VGH will be the sole hospital in B.C. - and only one
of three in Canada - to use the highly sophisticated robotic technology.
    "The new robotic technology not only bolsters the reputation of Vancouver
Coastal Health and Vancouver General Hospital as a global leader and pioneer
in surgical excellence, but will have a significant impact on patient care"
said Ida Goodreau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Coastal
Health. "VCH thanks the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and its donors for
funding this giant leap forward in patient care and innovation."
    The $6.5 million project includes the purchase of the da Vinci(R) system,
installation, training and the initial three-year operating costs. It will be
paid for from private donations through VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
    "Donors help to foster a new era of 'super-specialists' at VGH by
equipping them with the most sophisticated surgical technology available so
they can pioneer new techniques and pursue research," says Ron Dumouchelle,
President & CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. "We would like to thank Jack
Poole and Jim Pattison for their vision and generosity to help lead us to the
next generation of care for people from right across B.C."
    "As a prostate cancer survivor myself, I'm grateful for the care I
received and pleased to be part of this historic milestone to equip the
world's best at VGH so they can provide even better outcomes for their
patients here in B.C.," said Jack Poole.
    "Robot-assisted surgery offers enhanced dexterity and precision to
perform complex, delicate procedures in a minimally invasive manner. The
possibilities for applications here at VGH are exciting and promising for
people in B.C.," said Dr. Guy Fradet, Head, Division of Cardiovascular
Surgery, VGH and Medical Director, Cardiac Surgery, VGH and UBC Hospital.

    VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funding
for the latest, most sophisticated medical equipment, world-class research and
improvements to patient care for Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, GF
Strong Rehab Centre and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. For more
than 25 years, the Foundation and its donors have been a bridge between the
essential health care governments provide and the most advanced health care

    Backgrounder on robot-assisted surgery at Vancouver General Hospital

    Robot-assisted surgery is a significant technological advancement and
allows VGH to continue to play a leadership role in health care innovation for
patients. Medical technology forecasters predict a role for robot-assisted
surgery in operating rooms of the future.
    Vancouver General Hospital will be the third facility in the entire
country to provide this innovative method of surgery to patients.
    In the first three years, five types of procedures will be performed at
VGH using the new technology: three urology-related procedures; one
cardiovascular surgery procedure; and one gynecology procedure.

    Urology Procedures

        Radical Prostatectomy
        A surgical procedure that removes the entire prostate gland plus some
        surrounding tissue.

        An operation to remove a blockage in the tube (ureter) leading from
        one of the kidneys to the bladder.

        Living Donor Nephrectomy
        Removal of a kidney from a living donor for immediate transplantation
        into a patient in critical need.

    Cardiovascular Surgery Procedure

        Mitral Valve Repair
        There are four valves within the heart; the mitral, tricuspid, aortic
        and pulmonic valves. Mitral valve repair is the procedure of choice
        for most patients with mitral regurgitation (a leaky mitral valve).

    Gynecology Procedure

        An operation to remove a woman's uterus, or womb. In some cases, the
        ovaries and fallopian tubes also are removed.

    Over the initial three-year trial period, it is estimated that nearly 600
patients will be treated with this leading-edge technology.

    Benefits to Patients
    The most important benefit of robot-assisted surgery is the improvement of
patient health outcomes. These benefits to patients are numerous and include:
        - Less postoperative pain and shorter hospital stays
        - Faster convalescence, therefore reduced need for convalescent
          services (ie estimated recovery from radical prostatectomy is seven
          weeks after open surgery vs. four weeks after robot-assisted
          surgery. Twenty fewer days in convalescence means 15 fewer days
          away from work).
        - Lower use of analgesics
        - Fewer surgical complications
        - In cases of surgeries where tissue removal is required, more
          accurate or at least as complete, removal of tissues. This
          translates into a decreased risk of progression or recurrence and
          increased disease-free survival.
        - Access to the most advanced procedures and highly motivated
        - In the future, this technology may permit surgery in cases that
          might otherwise have been inoperable
        - While the first three to five years will be focused on in-house
          procedures, this technology has the potential to enable
          telesurgical applications, stretching the benefits to patients
          beyond the hospital. This would be particularly impactful in B.C.'s
          rural and remote communities, benefiting patients, health care
          professionals and the system, overall.

    Benefits to surgeons

        - Enables much more precise surgery than ever before
        - Better access to difficult to reach body cavities
        - Reduced fatigue during surgery
        - Opportunities to research, refine, and teach newest procedures
        - Opportunities for professional growth for surgeons and their
          surgical teams
        - Easier to learn than traditional laparoscopy
        - Enhanced ability to teach by being able to show students and
          residents areas that are otherwise visible only to the surgeon

    Benefits to the health care system

        - The introduction of robot-assisted surgery will reinforce VGH's
          position as a leading centre of surgical excellence and innovation
          in Canada and worldwide
        - It will strengthen our ability to attract, train, and retain the
          "best and the brightest" clinical staff
        - It will increase opportunities for VGH-initiated invention,
          development, and refinement of surgical solutions
        - By reducing risks and recovery times associated with live kidney
          donation, an increase in individuals willing to participate in this
          procedure is anticipated
        - Shorter times in hospital translate into cost avoidance - such as
          reduced risk of acquiring infections in the hospital, greater
          patient comfort, and more acute care beds available for other
          patients waiting for care

For further information:

For further information: Jon Hicke, Director, Marketing &
Communications, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Tel: (604) 875-5196,

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