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Packard Children's Opens West Coast's Most Advanced Pediatric Surgery Center

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The surgical lights are on, the operating-room cameras rolling. Action is under way in the West Coast's most advanced pediatric surgery center, at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.


The seven new operating rooms, which opened in December, provide the latest in imaging and communication technologies, allowing surgeons to operate with unprecedented precision, speed and efficiency. Every detail of the newly renovated 35,000-square-foot space, from the admitting desk to the route out of the recovery room, sets new standards in pediatric surgical care. Before, pediatric surgeries for patients at Packard Children's were done in Stanford University's adult hospital.

"There is no other children's hospital on the West Coast in which all the operating rooms are so state-of-the-art," said Craig Albanese, MD, the division chief of pediatric general surgery at Packard Children's. "It's an extraordinary facility which will help us prolong and save the lives of the most seriously ill and injured children. We'll be able to do procedures we can't even imagine yet."

The Ford Family Surgery Center can accommodate every operation from hernia repair to heart transplantation and is wired to be fully interactive. Many machines are voice-activated, freeing doctors' and nurses' hands for key tasks. Each room has high-definition monitors which display patients' vital signs, medical records, scans and x-ray images directly at the bedside, promoting safer care. Surgical lights contain cameras that can broadcast to other hospital departments, allowing surgeons to videoconference with pathologists and radiologists without leaving the patient. Surgeons will also be able to share expert opinions with colleagues in distant locations as they work.

And the new rooms contain cutting-edge tools for each surgical specialty. For instance, the "BrainLAB" image guidance system in the neurosurgery OR integrates images from several types of pre-op brain scans into one super- image of the patient's brain. The integrated three-dimensional image guides surgery with a GPS-like system that tracks each surgical tool in real time and displays its location in the brain-image map.

It's hard to overstate the advance this represents for young patients who need brain or spinal surgery. "Patients live and die by their scan images," said Michael Edwards, MD, the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Packard.

For instance, if a brain tumor is located near a region of gray matter that controls movement, Edwards can pre-plan the operation and then watch his surgical tools move through images of the patient's motor cortex, obtained in a pre-surgical functional MRI scan and fiber tract map, to ensure he's not cutting a brain region that would cripple the patient. Information from other types of scans helps him see exactly where the edges of the tumor lie as he operates.

"We will be able to perform more complex, higher-risk surgeries with greater safety," Edwards said.

And, in every operating room, surgical teams now have more room to move. The new ORs average 650 square feet, 150-200 feet larger than the rooms at Stanford Hospital. Most equipment is mounted on moveable ceiling booms, which means teams can configure the rooms ergonomically for any operation.

Other new designs lessen the stress of what one family called "the surgical maze." Patients can now bypass Packard's general admitting and go straight to a surgery-specific admitting desk. They travel only a few steps for anesthesia prep, and then move to a waiting area with toys and child-sized furniture, where Child Life specialists use play therapy to prepare children for their surgery experience.

"It's a very kid-friendly environment," said Albanese, "and doesn't seem like a traditional hospital or OR."

Then patients move to a pre-op holding area, where each bed has a TV and space for families wait. Each child is assigned a confidential tracking number during surgery, and parents can check display screens in the waiting area to see where their child is in the surgical process. Soon after surgery, parents join their kids in the 12-bed recovery room. The suites are designed to make the experience of surgery as anxiety-free as possible.

In short, the new facility delivers improvements in every aspect of patient care.

"Innovation begets innovation," said Albanese. "We can think more broadly, generate new ideas, and figure out how to make things better for our patients. We're all very excited."

The Ford Family Surgery Center was built with a lead gift from the Thomas W. Ford Family and gifts from HEDCO Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Schow Foundation and The Valley Foundation.

Take a video tour of the new Ford Family Surgery Center at

About Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Ranked as one of the nation's top pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is a 272-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services and associated with the Stanford University School of Medicine, Packard Children's offers patients locally, regionally and nationally the full range of health care programs and services, from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, visit

     Robert Dicks
     (650) 497-8364

     Todd Kleinheinz
     (650) 725-9666

SOURCE Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
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