Houston VA Hospital Adds New Surgical Suite

A new $1.5 million surgical suite at Houston's Veteran's Hospital will allow surgeons to perform an array of complicated surgical procedures in one spot. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the hybrid operating room is unique in the VA medical care system.

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It hasn't been used yet, but the suite will soon be the center of the Houston VA's surgical efforts, one of the busiest veterans hospitals in the nation with more than 800,000 outpatient visits in fiscal year 2006. VA surgeon Dr. David Berger says the new OR is a one-stop shop.

"We have obviously the ability to do standard, open surgery. The second thing we have the ability to do is endoscopic or laparoscopic surgery and then the final thing is we can do any kind of interventional procedures that need radiologic capabilities as well. So that's very unique to have all three of those different modalities in the same venue at the same time."

Surgeons will also have the ability to call-up patient records or critical X-ray or CAT scan images in the operating room through the VA's e-technology system. Many veterans suffer from multiple vascular and cardiac conditions that in the past have required several surgeries in different OR's. This is hospital director Ed Tucker.

"We have a very busy vascular surgery service. We have a very busy open-heart surgery program and our veterans come in and working between those two programs and our cardiology service and our cardiology cath labs on the third floor, we get a lot of collaboration and cooperations and this really allows that best-judgement, best information from all of those disciplines to come together."

Hospital officials also hope the new hybrid surgical suite speeds the healing process by using less invasive, more advanced techniques on patients and lessens the risk of infection because of the all-in-one aspect of the facility. United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson was on hand for the operating room's ribbon cutting.

"By combining endovascular surgery, cardiac catheterization and cardiac surgical capabilities, this suite provides maximum flexibility and speed in the treatment of our veteran patients who come to us with the most complex cardiac and vascular problems."

The VA medical system serves around a million veterans a week across the nation. You can see pictures of the new surgical suite here in Houston on our website, KUHF.org.

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