Legacy lives on at Groote Schuur

2016-09-13 06:00
Unveiling the plaque to launch the new suites at Groote Schuur Hospital are, from left, Chris Barnard (son of Dr Chris Barnard), Professor Peter Zilla (head of department, Chris Barnard division of Cardiothoracic Surgery) and Dr Bhavna Patel (CEO Groote Schuur Hospital). PHOTO: gary van dyk

Unveiling the plaque to launch the new suites at Groote Schuur Hospital are, from left, Chris Barnard (son of Dr Chris Barnard), Professor Peter Zilla (head of department, Chris Barnard division of Cardiothoracic Surgery) and Dr Bhavna Patel (CEO Groote Schuur Hospital). PHOTO: gary van dyk

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The legacy of the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Observatory lives on as it enters a phase of the latest innovations in heart surgery.

As the leading academic hospital in the country it has embarked on minimally invasive heart surgery and hybrid cardiac surgery procedures which ensure more comfort, better outcomes and quicker recovery for patients undergoing heart surgery.

Four years after the programme had been clinically established, phase one of the new state of the art hybrid operating theatre suite has been completed – providing the most modern space and infrastructure to accommodate the sophisticated imaging and other equipment required for the optimal performance of this type of surgery.

This new addition to the hospital is called the “Christian Barnard Hybrid Operating Suites”, commemorating Groote Schuur’s pioneer of heart surgery.

Speaking at the official launch of the suites on Wednesday 7 September Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur, explained that this is in keeping with the worldwide trend towards less invasive heart surgery.

“Conventional open heart surgery largely relies on a “sternotomy” in which the breastbone is surgically divided for the procedure to expose the heart before connecting the patient to a heart-lung machine which takes over both the pumping function of the heart and the breathing function of the lung,” she says.

To reduce the risk of post-operative complications and avoid the use of replacement valves where ever possible, key-hole surgery aimed at the repair of the patient’s own diseased heart valves has also become a standard procedure at Groote Schuur Hospital in recent years, Patel explains.

“However, as the operative risk may still be too high for some patients, the replacement of diseased heart valves is increasingly also performed as a so called ‘trans-catheter’ procedure. Similar to a stent placed in an artery, this approach delivers a fully collapsible replacement valve into the diseased valve through a catheter. In high-income countries like Germany more than half of all heart valve replacements are done via such a ‘trans-catheter-procedures’ rather than through open heart surgery.”

After the hospital adopted this cutting edge technique four years ago the programme is now moving into the new hybrid operating theatres which combines an operating room for open heart surgery with a catheter suite used by cardiologists for procedures such as angiograms and coronary stent implantations. Providing a state-of-the-art facility for its trans-catheter heart valve and vascular graft programme, Groote Schuur Hospital further secured its leading role as the only teaching hospital in the country that offers key-hole repair surgery and trans-catheter replacement surgery for diseased heart valves as well as diseased arteries. This new facility will also greatly expand the spectrum of other surgical disciplines whose operative techniques have equally become increasingly “minimally invasive” in recent years, Patel says.


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