“It is like the difference between night and day,” Stephen Lock, M.D., explains when describing the contrast between traditional imaging equipment and the capabilities of the new hybrid operating room (OR) that was installed at EAMC in October 2016.

The hybrid OR involved years of planning before Dr. Lock, of Surgical Clinic, PC in Opelika, performed his first surgery using the new equipment last year. The hybrid OR includes a system with a robotic “arm” and detailed imaging equipment to assist surgeons during procedures.

The new room, which replaced the Main OR at EAMC, is equipped with an Artis zeego hybrid operating room system from Siemens Healthcare. The system includes a robotic arm with imaging capabilities that can be moved around a patient on the operating table. With the capabilities of the robotic arm, physicians are able to capture clearer 3D and 2D images of larger sections of anatomy while patients are on the operating table.

This provides clinicians with additional information for increased diagnostic confidence while offering the potential to reduce procedural radiation dose.

“This room takes East Alabama to the next level of treating people better and more efficiently,” Dr. Lock says. We’re able to see things and do things that we were not previously able to do, and the things we were doing previously, we’re able to do better.

“We are continuing to learn more about the numerous capabilities of the machine,” he continues. “In addition to better imaging, other benefits include the ability for the surgeon to control the machine, instead of relying on a technician. This saves time, and is ultimately better for the patient. The hybrid OR has placed us light years ahead of facilities that don’t have access to imaging like this when treating vascular diseases and conditions.”

The hybrid OR combines intuitive and efficient procedural workflows so that physicians are able to treat patients more quickly and with a higher standard of care. The system also enhances clinical decision-making.

“Many of the vascular procedures that we perform in the hybrid OR, we were doing before we had the new technology,” Dr. Lock notes. “However, I am now able to do combined procedures, where I am performing multiple procedures on one patient. This is much better for the patient and their recovery time. Occasionally, despite all our devices, we’re not able to get through a blockage and have to convert to an open bypass procedure. Before, we had to back out and bring them in a separate day, but now, we can proceed with a bypass type procedure immediately.”

“It has been a smooth transition since we launched the hybrid OR in October,” Bethany Merritt, OR manager says. “There are currently four surgeons who are trained to use the system and Dr. Lock performs the majority of the procedures in the hybrid OR.”

Merritt explains that, “in addition to its imaging capabilities, another advantage of the hybrid OR is its versatility. We can perform vascular, endovascular and open surgeries in the same room. This is excellent for patient care because in the event that we need to open a patient in an emergency situation, we have the capability to do everything in the same room instead of transporting the patient to a different area. The operating table, motion sensor lights and imaging equipment all work in tandem. We have the ability to adjust many settings based on the procedure and patient needs, just by the tap of a touch screen on the wall—it truly is innovative technology for our department.”

Dr. Lock remembers some of the early open bypass procedures he performed when he started at EAMC 30 years ago.

“I performed a bypass procedure on a man who took about eight weeks to recover,” Dr. Lock says. “But now, I can treat someone with same issue who is home in one day. Vascular treatment has changed tremendously throughout the years and with the new Artis zeego system, we are providing the newest technology in state-of-art patient care for East Alabama.”

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