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North East's first hybrid operating theatre to treat vascular disease opens in County Durham

Endovascular theatre
  • Theatre technology will provide X-ray and open surgery options in one place to save people's lives from vascular disease (disease of the blood vessel circulation)
  • Vascular disease is responsible for forty per cent of UK deaths.

The North East's first operating theatre dedicated to treating people with vascular disease, one of the UK's biggest killers, has opened at University Hospital of North Durham.

The Trust has invested £1.9m in the 'hybrid' endovascular operating theatre, which includes equipment that allows clinicians to treat patients with diseased veins and arteries in a more efficient and patient-friendly way.

Patients with blockages in their blood vessels are treated in the theatre using endovascular (X-ray based) 'key-hole' techniques. This type of treatment is usually easier and better for the patient in terms of comfort and recovery time.

William Moody, aged 81, from Coxhoe in County Durham, was the first patient to receive life-saving treatment at the new theatre. He said: "I've had chest problems all of my life - ever since working as a miner. When a scan of my chest revealed that I had a life-threatening condition linked to an artery that had swollen and was at risk of rupturing, the hospital booked me in for treatment immediately. I remember the telephone call very well, they said: 'Don't panic, William, but we need you to come in for an operation straight away'."

"I was scared, but Mr Davey the surgeon was so reassuring and the care I received on the ward was fabulous. They fitted me with a stent and fixed the aneurysm, and I recovered very quickly. I was delighted that I was able to leave intensive care at the hospital so quickly and go back home to be with my wife, Una. I was in hospital for two days and then I was looked after at home by the community nurse.

"The operation has helped me to live a better life - my scar is much smaller than I expected and I feel champion now."

High-end X-ray technology is co-located in an operating theatre setting and means that patients can have their treatment completed in one episode of care. If the less invasive endovascular X-ray route is not successful, surgeons can, if appropriate, convert to open surgery to fix the problem - there and then.

As well as enabling the Trust to treat patients more efficiently, the new hybrid theatre also means that those with more complex vascular disease no longer need to travel out of the area to remote hospitals and can now be treated locally at University Hospital of North Durham. 

Mr Philip Davey, Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon, explained: "This is the first time that X-ray imaging has been co-located in an operating theatre in the North East and it means that we can provide patients with the best possible care.

"'Key-hole' techniques with X-rays can be better for the patient because they offer a less invasive way of managing vascular disease and often avoid the need for a general anaesthetic. Consequently, patients typically need less time in hospital and their recovery should be quicker.

"We can now offer more efficient "seamless" pathways of care and patients no longer have to have surgery or an X-Ray procedure in different locations at a different time."

'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we have this service at all and well done to you all.'

Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital