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New high-tech surgical suites allow doctors to save more lives and reduce complications


Patient Paul Tarnowski (left) and Dr. Sudhir Nagpal toured the new minimally invasive surgical suites at the Civic Campus.

Paul Tarnowski was just weeks away from his 50th wedding anniversary in 2014 when he was rushed into emergency surgery for a bleeding aneurysm. He was a candidate for the endovascular surgical approach, whereby a needle and wire were inserted into his groin to repair the damage.

Tarnowski was awake during the entire procedure and spoke with his surgeon, Dr. Sudhir Nagpal, Chief of Vascular and Endovascular surgery at The Ottawa Hospital.

“I was like, ‘Look, I want to make it, so don’t mess up’,” Tarnowski recalled with a laugh. “I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to tell my wife that those 50 years were absolutely extraordinary.”

Now, Dr. Nagpal and the rest of The Ottawa Hospital’s renowned vascular surgical team have a new space to perform minimally invasive surgery on patients suffering from life-threatening conditions.

Two new surgical suites (also called operating rooms), with first-of-its-kind-in-Canada technology, opened at the Civic Campus in late August. The suites, each measuring 1,000 square feet, are the largest at the hospital.

One of the suites houses the $1.6-million General Electric Discovery angiography system – with a laser-guided, movable arm that integrates 3D-imaging diagnostics, and radiological and surgical capabilities. This system will enhance the surgical team’s ability to perform less-invasive endovascular surgeries, saving more lives and leading to quicker recovery times and fewer side effects. Hospital stays and patient wait times will also be reduced.


The General Electric Discovery system allows surgeons to see inside patients as the surgery proceeds, via 3D-imaging diagnostics.

“We can see inside you as we’re doing a procedure,” said Dr. Nagpal, who used the Discovery system for the first time during operations in late August. “When a wire comes up through the leg in an artery, we can see the wire dancing. This is real time where the x-ray stays on and we’re able to work like in a video game – literally.”

Operations on diseased arteries and veins used to involve large incisions in the chest, stomach or leg. In the past, the mortality rate for patients with Tarnowski’s condition was 80 percent. But the endovascular approach, assisted by high-tech help, is lowering that rate.

“The complication rates are significantly better with endovascular treatment compared to an open operation, and that’s saying nothing about mortality or even surviving the operation, where their survival of endovascular procedures is significantly better,” Dr. Nagpal said.

“After the procedure, I felt good,” said Tarnowski. In fact, he was home within two days and attended his 50th wedding anniversary party two weeks later.


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