Thunder Bay 50/50 Draw Funds Huge Leap in Technology

There were 5,000+ other winners in the Thunder Bay 50/50 draw last year you didn’t hear about – and you may even be one of them. That’s because everyone who undergoes minimally invasive surgery at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in the next year will benefit from upgraded minimally invasive surgery suites (MIS suites). That includes one upgraded with proceeds from Thunder Bay 50/50 ticket sales.

The systems used in this revolutionary area of surgery continue to grow in leaps and bounds. Ron Garon, Manager of Perioperative Services at the Health Sciences Centre, compared MIS suite improvements to advancements in cellphones.

“The equipment we replaced came out about the same time as the original iPhone,” Garon said. “Think about going back to that 1.0 model compared to the phone you have in your hand now. That’s similar to the kind of difference the surgeons are seeing with our new MIS suites.”

Perhaps the most obvious advances are the imaging and monitor systems. Since minimally invasive surgeries are performed without large incisions, surgeons can’t physically see inside the body. Instead, tiny cameras guide surgeons every step of the way.

Obviously, the quality of their imaging equipment is vitally important. The new MIS suites went from standard high-definition 24” screens to 32” super-sharp 4K monitors for bigger, clearer pictures. The new system also uses a special luminescent dye that literally lights up the screen like highway lights at night, allowing surgeons to see anatomy more clearly.

“The pictures are just phenomenal,” Garon said. “Every surgeon wants to work in here. Our plan now is to install a fourth MIS suite.”

The surgical team controls the system with a new centralized control panel. This makes it faster and easier for staff to make adjustments for the surgeon without having to crowd around the patient. The panel also allows the surgeons to take images and videos during the surgery and attach them directly to the patient file for review later.

The control panel also helps improve training for tomorrow’s surgeons. Video and images can be streamed through the Hospital’s secure network so students can view the surgery live from another room without having to cram into the surgical suite.

Minimally Invasive Surgery a Huge Advance in Patient Care

Minimally invasive surgery in itself is a huge advance in patient care. It is safer and often faster than traditional surgery. It also reduces recovery time tremendously – some patients can leave same day. Not only is that better for the patient, but it also helps free up beds for other patients who need them.

About 5,000 patients at the Health Sciences Centre undergo minimally invasive surgery every year. But with the new, more capable MIS suites, that number will likely grow, Garon said. For example, previously certain lymph node surgeries had to be referred to Hamilton. But the improved imaging quality of the MIS suites will allow the surgeon to see with the finer detail needed. That means more patients can get their surgeries right here, reducing travel and anxiety for patients and their families.

One of the three new MIS suites was funded directly from money raised by the Health Sciences Foundation’s Thunder Bay 50/50 Draw. Every ticket sold helps patients throughout Northwestern Ontario get the healthcare they need, right here at home. Find out what this month’s jackpot is up to at and buy your tickets. As the new MIS suites show, no matter who wins, we all win!