When doctors choose which way to perform common heart surgeries, they're typically stuck with that route -- largely because of location.
Operating rooms where doctors perform minimally invasive procedures, maybe using a catheter inserted in the leg or groin to travel through the blood vessels and access the heart, often don't have the X-ray and ultrasound imaging technology or the anesthesia required to change course and perform a full open-heart surgery if the need arises.
But that's no longer an issue at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
The hospital on Monday plans to perform its first surgery inside a new Hybrid Cardiovascular Operating Room designed to provide the technology and space for doctors to use the best type of surgery for each patient.
"We can actually have the surgeons and the cardiologists working together in the same room," said Dr. Peter Kerwin, a cardiologist and medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab. "And we have all options open to us, up to and including open-heart surgery."
The new space, double the size of a typical operating room, allows all surgical options because it incorporates an X-ray machine and an ultrasound with images displayed on a large screen.
"That's important because we need to be able to see everything," Kerwin said.
Doctors can use real-time images to guide precision procedures, such as mitral valve repair or aortic valve replacement. Surgeons also can use the assistance of an anesthesiologist, equipped with all of the medications needed for moderate "twilight" or full sedation.
"It allows us to move into this new area in cardiology," Kerwin said.
Four doctors and up to six nurses or other medical experts will work as a team to conduct each surgery in the new space, into which the hospital invested several years of planning, several rounds of simulations and millions of dollars, President Nancy Tinsley said.
Dr. Mahesh Raju, a cardiologist and medical director of endovascular services, said the new operating room will decrease the time it takes to perform procedures and make the experience safer for patients.
Using a hybrid approach between open-heart surgery and catheter insertion in the leg or groin, doctors can make an incision much closer to the heart -- in the neck, for example -- to decrease potential complications.
"When you have a shortcut, your risk goes down," Raju said. And so does time in the hospital and recovery time at home.
The new hybrid operating room is part of the Advocate Heart Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital, which includes an outpatient clinic, diagnostics, inpatient and surgical units, and an advanced heart failure treatment area -- nearly all in one place near the hospital's main entrance.
The new facility adds to the hospital's "extremely comprehensive" list of cardiovascular services, Tinsley said. "We consider ourselves the complex care provider in the community," she said. "No matter what your cardiac symptom is, we're your one-stop shop."
And it follows the hospital's history of advances in cardiac care, Kerwin said.
In 1987, Good Samaritan became the first recorded community hospital to treat heart attacks with clot-dissolving medications, he said. Previously, only research hospitals had tried this method.
And in 2002, Kerwin said, Good Samaritan became one of the first in the nation to address heart attacks by following a now-standard "cardiac alert process" that involves coordinating with paramedics to bring patients directly to a catheterization lab where they can get immediate help.