Hybrid Surgery

March 10, 2008 9:01:47 AM PDT
"Hybrid surgery" is a term you may hear about more often. Hybrid surgery is the combination of specialties in order for better treatment. It's becoming more and more common because of the aging population and the increase in complicated cases. Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital has two hybrid surgical suites to help perform these procedures. More and more hospitals are having doctors who normally compete against each other for patients now work together in the operating room. Hybrid teams of doctors are also being formed at hospitals across the country.

HYBRID APPROACH: One example of a hybrid case is Michael Brown from Holiday, Florida. The 66-year-old had a stent placed in his carotid artery to increase blood flow to the brain and prevent a stroke. But getting the stent to his artery took the work of two specialty doctors. Dr. John Ofenloch is a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon at Morton Plant Mease Health Care. Dr. Ofenloch uses a scalpel for incisions to get to the vessel that needs to be fixed. Dr. Eric Lopez is an interventional neuroradiologist at Morton Plant Mease Health Care. Dr. Lopez barely makes an incision at all and uses a catheter and tiny wire stents to prevent strokes and heart disease. Dr. Ofenloch felt it would be risky to try to clean out the artery in Michael's neck with standard surgery, but attempts to place a stent through his groin or other vessels failed because he had too many blockages. Dr. Lopez could not get to the area to put in the stent, so the two came together to come up with a way to treat Michael.

HYBRID SURGERY: Dr. Ofenloch needed to open up an area in Michael's neck in order to give Dr. Lopez an entering point. Once the incision and opening was ready, then Dr. Lopez did his part. He was able to place the stent into the carotid artery that was high up near the jaw. The hybrid approach was a success. The carotid blockage completely opened. Dr. Ofenloch and Dr. Lopez say there was no other way to get to the carotid blockage without the two of them working together. Michael Brown says the two doctors saved his life.

FUTURE: Doctor Ofenloch and Dr. Lopez agree that hybrid cases are going to become more common. As the technology improves, Dr. Ofenloch says the ability to do cases with a more minimally invasive approach is going to improve, and the number of hybrid cases will increase. The need for hybrid cases will also increase as patients get older and as the number of obese patients and patients with diabetes increases. Dr. Lopez says it's really thinking outside the box to benefit the patient.