A new GPS-like technology is helping doctors operate precisely on hearts, while cutting patients’ exposure to radiation.
The way to a man’s heart is said to be through his stomach, but if that doesn’t work there’s always GPS technology.
St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane has invested in MediGuide technology, which works like global positioning system during complex heart operations.
Usually doctors must take a continuous series of x-rays to see where electrode catheters are in a patient’s heart during procedures like pacemaker or stent implants, and ablations.
Dr John Hayes says this exposes a patient to more cumulative radiation in their lifetime, which can cause cancers and breaks down cells.
But he says MediGuide can cut their exposure during operations by 80 per cent to 90 per cent.
The new technology puts sensors on catheters before taking one x-ray image of the heart.
The real-time positions of the catheters is then shown on top of the x-ray image on a screen.
“It’s like a little localised GPS system within our theatre, so we can see these little catheters moving without actually having to take another x-ray all the time,” Dr Hayes told AAP.
But unlike a car’s GPS, he said, there was a lower chance of ending up lost in the woods.
Dr Hayes said the MediGuide tracker sits right above the patient, rather than in space, so the catheter positioning is far more accurate.
He said if there was any doubt doctors could just take another x-ray.
“You can’t just generate a new, precise map with your phone or sat-nav,” he said.
“You can with this technology.”
The new system was used successfully for three operations at the hospital on Tuesday.
St Andrew’s is the only facility in the Asia-Pacific which has the $1.2 million MediGuide system.