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SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital

Passeig Sant Joan de Déu, 2, 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat

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Cutting-edge technology in SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital’s new surgical block

They are the first pediatric operating theatres in Spain to have an MRI scanner, a CT scanner and a hybrid arch.

SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital has opened the first pediatric operating theatres in Spain that include an MRI scanner, a CT scanner and a hybrid arch in the same surgical space. This technology means the surgical teams can have real-time, magnified images of the area they need to operate on, giving them greater precision in extremely complex interventions like, for example, resection of a brain tumour or scoliosis surgery.

Thanks to the new surgical block, some operations which used to require open surgery can now be done by minimally invasive techniques without moving the patient from the operating theatre. More than 15,000 surgical interventions are carried out every year at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital.

Between the building work and all the equipment, the construction of the new operating theatres has meant an investment of nearly twenty million euros. The work was funded by Servei Català de la Salut (the Catalan health service)  and through many contributions, including from Fundació Privada Daniel Bravo Andreu, Fundació Nou Mil·lenni, Asociación Benéfica Anita, Fundació Barberà Bardés, Fundación Creatia and Mindray.

The surgical block has an area of 2,200 m2, more than double the previous one (800 m2), and has eight operating theatres and a recovery room with ten beds, four of which are for critical patients and are designed to support the Heart Area.

The operating theatres are equipped with the most advanced electromedical and audiovisual technology available today. One is specially designed with an MRI scanner for neurosurgery interventions, so a scan can be done immediately after the operation to check that there are no traces left of the tumour without having to take the patient out of the theatre. This means the surgery teams can be sure that they have completely removed the tumour and avoid having to re-operate.

This is the case with a treatment that SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital has applied in children for the first time in Spain: percutaneous thermal laser ablation. An MRI scan is needed before this intervention to mark out the area of the tumour to be destroyed during the procedure, and then again afterwards to check the result. Previously, percutaneous thermal laser ablation was a process that took hours because the patient had to be prepared in the operating theatre and then taken to a different floor of the Hospital to the MRI unit. Now, there will be no need for the patient to leave the operating theatre. 

Another of the eight new operating theatres includes a hybrid arch and is specially designed for trauma interventions. This is useful for surgeons who operate on scoliosis, which is a relatively common intervention at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital. With the hybrid arch, the surgeons can see in real time where to place the screws to fuse the spine, which contributes to the success of the intervention and helps reduce postoperative complications.

The equipment is complemented by a CT scanner, which can be transferred to any operating theatre. This is especially useful in procedures that require great precision, such as bone punctures or thoracic cancer surgery.

In the case of cardiac surgery, there are two new improvements. The first is an extracorporeal pump for low-weight and premature patients, and the second is an image integration system through the oesophagus, which lets us see the heart and large blood vessels in 3D.  

All the operating theatres have state-of-the-art anaesthetic stations, which provide total control of the patient’s condition during the entire surgical process.

The operating theatres designed to improve the experience of both the patient and the healthcare professionals

The new surgical block has been specially designed to make the experience of patients and their families more pleasant. Special care has been taken in creating the right surroundings and, following the theme of the other SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital  buildings, the focus is on the animal world. Birds of all kinds and colours cover the walls of corridors and operating theatres, and even the ceilings in the surgical block, since children usually go into the operating theatre lying on a trolley and looking at the ceiling.

Also, in three of the operating theatres projectors have been installed so that children can watch their favourite cartoons or series on the wall before falling asleep with the anaesthetic. 

They also have music and a lighting system that can be modified and adapted to each surgical situation. For example, the light will be blue for performing a laparoscopy, but green to create a relaxing environment when the patient is coming in. 

Also, families can be with the child before and after the operation. They can stay with the child in the surgical preparation room, which has a play area for little ones, and be together until it’s time to go into the operating theatre. Then one of the parents stays with the child at the operating table until he or she falls asleep. 

Mums and dads also know where their son or daughter is at all times thanks to a mobile application that geolocates a bracelet that their child is wearing. This tells the family if the child is still in the operating theatre, or has already left and is in the recovery unit. 

The design of the operating theatres has also taken into account the well-being of the healthcare professionals, who traditionally have to work long hours in enclosed spaces with no natural light. The new operating theatres at SJD Barcelona Children’s  Hospital have been designed to maximise the entry of natural light, with windows and skylights to help make the environment more comfortable for both the healthcare professionals and the family, and create better working conditions. 

Collection and analysis of data to innovate and improve surgical procedures

The new surgical block is equipped with the latest software for integrating all the information to help us personalise each intervention. The software also means we can record a large volume of relevant information for carrying out research studies to contribute towards innovating and improving surgical procedures.

In the process of building, equipping and commissioning the new surgical block, SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital has relied the support and technological expertise of the company Philips.