2016 has been another great year for Hillcrest Private Hospital with two major reasons to celebrate – five years of serving the community, and the opening of a new high-tech catheterization laboratory (or cath lab)
Since its inception in July 2011, Hillcrest Private Hospital has attracted a list of accolades for its patient care and service delivery, its staff have been recognised nationally for their dedication to patient care, and the hospital has expanded to include an extra wing and extended parking. In order to keep pace with the demands of a growing community, the hospital has also recently been granted permission to develop another 88 beds.
Another way in which the hospital is set to serve its patients is with a state-of-the-art cath lab, opened in August 2016. Simply put, a cath lab is an examination and interventional facility with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualise the body’s complex network of blood vessels and treat any abnormality found.
What makes this cath lab so special is the high-tech equipment, derived from space technology, that gives medical staff a comprehensive view of the patient in front of them, allowing them to make the best possible decisions regarding their treatment. The facility represents a sizeable investment by the hospital and enables them to offer life-saving and life-extending cardiovascular treatments.
With an alarming rise in the number of South Africans dying from cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), demand for these treatments is high. Symptoms to look out for include headaches, episodes of cerebral dysfunction (such as slurred speech or temporary loss of feeling in a limb), pain when you walk, and swelling in the arms or legs, amongst others.
In the past, cardiovascular irregularities often required invasive operations, such as a bypass or surgical replacement of the blood vessel, with a high risk of infection and associated complications. Today, however, sophisticated imaging technology coupled with cutting edge materials enable medical professionals to treat these irregularities in a non-invasive way. Not only does this reduce the potential side effects, but it can also improve the long-term prognosis.
To take full advantage of this facility, the hospital has partnered with two renowned specialists – Professor John V Robbs (vascular surgeon) and Dr Sanjay Maharaj (cardiologist). “We are proud to have Prof Robbs and Dr Maharaj on the team,” says Hospital Manager Japie Greyling. “They have a wealth of experience and will be an asset to our patients and community.”
Dr Sanjay Maharaj has been seeing patients at Hillcrest Private Hospital since July 2011, but the new cath lab enables him to utilise the latest technology for diagnostics, stenting, angioplasty and the insertion of pacemakers. There is high demand for these procedures, as people are living longer and not necessarily investing in their health as they should.
Prof Robbs did much of his training in the USA and has been published widely during his career. He recently relocated to Hillcrest Private Hospital from Entabeni and will be using the cath lab extensively. “Hillcrest Private Hospital is a beautifully-designed hospital with a great group of doctors who work well together, providing top-quality care within a cottage hospital atmosphere,” he says.
“Vascular surgery is a very exciting field to be working in, as it is evolving rapidly. With that, comes the need to keep up to date, with ongoing specialist training.”
Today, catheter-based non-invasive treatment, combined with X-ray control, is the method of choice. “When I first started working with these techniques, a decade ago, I was sceptical,” says Prof Robbs, “but the results speak for themselves. It’s a little bit sci-fi, but there is more to come. Scientists are working on more advanced technologies all
Patients going in for this style of cardiovascular treatment can expect to come out with minimal scarring, as surgeons enter via a small incision in the groin and use catheters to access the affected area, with highly sophisticated imaging technology to give them a real-time view of the blood vessels.
The approach is highly successful when employed in the legs, aorta and carotid arteries, with stents used to repair an aneurism and balloons used to clear a blockage. Treatment for aortic aneurism was previously highly invasive, with the surgeon having to open up the chest and/or abdomen. Now they are able to enter via a small incision in the groin, stenting up to 80% of cases. Early diagnosis is vital and each patient will be assessed carefully before a course of action is decided. Surgery will still be required in some cases.
Not only does the technology allow for surgeons to work with extreme precision, it also enables treatment to be more proactive. “Whereas patients presenting with venous issues would previously have been prescribed blood thinning medications, we can now treat a large proportion of cases with positive results,” continues Prof Robbs.
Advanced materials and manufacturing techniques allow for long-term results. The latest stents are laser cut from nickel titanium alloy, which makes them compressible, relatively flexible and heat resistant – vital for accurate positioning and longevity within the human body.
Varicose veins can now be obliterated using radiofrequency, with minimal pain and bruising, and minimal down time. The patient can expect to be back at work within a day.
While patients are set to benefit directly from the treatments on offer, the facility has another spin-off in that it attracts top-quality staff who are continuously expanding their skill-set. “This machinery requires a team of highly-qualified radiographers, theatre staff and nurses,” says Prof Robbs. “The team at Hillcrest Private Hospital are seasoned campaigners, chosen for their experience, training and passion for the specialty.” As the staff continue to share their knowledge, this can only improve the quality of care in our area.
With this state-of-the-art facility, Hillcrest Private Hospital has moved into the 21st century, offering the same treatment you would expect in some of the best hospitals around the world. “We are excited to be able to offer this to our patients,” says Japie Greyling, “and are poised to take advantage of future advances.”
How do I reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease?
- Don’t smoke! It lacquers the arteries.
- Make exercise a regular part of your life.
- Eat a healthy diet – more fruit and veg, less cholesterol, less fat … and cut down on red meat.
- Know your risk factors, especially if you have a family history of stroke or heart attack.
- Manage your blood pressure.
- Keep stress in check.
Hillcrest Private Hospital
471 Kassier Road, Assagay
031 768 8000
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