Dr. Nevin De Korompay’s sterile, rubber-gloved hand hovers over a control pad in the operating room that has no buttons and doesn’t have to be touched.
The controls are projected onto a sheet the doctor simply has to motion toward to bring up different medical images on multiple computer screens.
There’s also a screen to see the insides of the patient so he can guide wires used to perform advanced minimally invasive surgery.
“In some ways, we’re playing a video game,” said De Korompay, an interventional radiologist.
“This is where advanced medical imaging meets advanced minimally invasive surgery. It’s the future of medicine.”
De Korompay is spearheading the pilot project at Kelowna General Hospital using TIPSO innovative imaging technology from Vancouver-based NZ Technologies.
Only four other hospitals in Canada were chosen for the pilot: Vancouver General, Royal Columbian in New Westminster, Surrey Memorial and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
The advantage of TIPSO is the quick, wireless and touchless access to multiple screens by the surgeon or interventional radiologist.
“Without TIPSO, we still had screens, but I would have to have a nurse or operator work the touch control pad because my hands were sterile,” said De Korompay.
“That would mean a lot of voice commands and a lot of back and forth between multiple images on multiple screens. I find it much easier to do it myself (touchless) because I know exactly what I want on the screen.”
There also have been cases in which images of an X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound or MRI needed for the operation aren’t in the OR.
The doctor has to rush out, refer to it elsewhere, re-scrub and sterilize his hands and hurry back into surgery.
“It’s a work-around we don’t have to do anymore,” said De Korompay.
“TIPSO is so much more efficient and effective. It manages all the pieces of this complex interface of data and screens.”
TIPSO is one of the tools that makes minimally invasive surgery viable.
In the past, doctors may have had to cut into a patient and root around his or her liver to find exactly where a tumour is, cut it out and stitch the patient back up for a long and painful recovery.
With advanced imaging, big surgical cuts with a scalpel are often unnecessary.
A long and thin wire, inserted minimally, usually in the wrist or abdomen, can be run through a patient’s arteries or veins.
The whole process is guided by the little camera on the wire that transmits the image to the screen.
For instance, an otherwise inoperable liver tumour can be minimally targeted with a wire to inject radiation and cure the patient.
In the past, such a case would mean blasting the patient with chemotherapy and hoping for the best.
Advanced imaging and advanced minimally invasive procedures also work well for heart ablations, removing blood clots after a stroke, unblocking arteries and veins, and for prostate surgery.
“In many cases, I can treat cancer though a pinhole in the patient’s wrist and send them home the same day,” said De Korompay.
“It’s the nexus of surgery and imaging. It’s like Google Maps for everything you need during a procedure. You can get information on the fly.”
De Korompay’s dad is an orthopedic surgeon.
“I was going to follow in his footsteps,” he said.
“But then I discovered interventional radiology, where you can get anywhere in the body with a thin wire through a pinprick in the wrist, and I was sold. This really is the future of medicine.”