When Joe Wright saw his eye doctor for what he thought was a case of pink eye, he got an unexpected diagnosis. His ophthalmologist found a retinal hemorrhage and suspected a blocked carotid artery.
Testing confirmed this, and Joe became one of the first patients in the region to undergo a transcarotid artery revascularization, or TCAR. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that uses a new approach to unblock a carotid artery and reduce post-operative stroke risk.
Wright’s story is but one of many on the leading edge of medicine as told in Carilion Clinic’s 2018 annual report, Working Wonders.
Other advances at Carilion that are described in the report include:
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. It is another minimally invasive procedure in which surgeons use a catheter to implant an artificial heart valve.
- Using 3-D-printed heart models created from images of a patient’s heart. These models let surgeons better plan or simulate complex procedures and minimize risk in advance.
- Wide-awake hand surgery. Procedures that used to call for general anesthesia or sedation can now be done under local anesthesia—even sometimes in the doctor’s office.
- Using magnet technology to improve outcomes of surgery for scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. Traditional treatment involves an initial surgery to insert metal rods into a patient’s back to straighten the spine, followed by other surgeries to adjust them as the patient grows. With magnet technology, the rods are adjusted without additional surgeries by spinning a magnet over the body.
- The new Center for Simulation, Research and Patient Safety in Roanoke, which has four advanced simulation rooms. They include an operating room, a trauma bay and two patient rooms. The center also has other equipment and technology to simulate almost any hospital situation.
- An early warning system known as the Rothman Index. Carilion was one of the first in the country to reduce hospital deaths using this software analytics tool that alerts providers when patients are getting worse. As a result, cardiac arrests have declined by 20 percent at Carilion, and other emergencies are down by 10 percent.
The annual report also covers other developments across Carilion, such as the Roanoke Campus being awarded a fourth Magnet designation for nursing excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Carilion is now the longest consecutively designated Magnet organization in Virginia.
And the report takes a look at:
- How Carilion Sports Medicine doctors and physician assistants volunteer every Friday night in the fall at 21 area high schools. They also offer Saturday sports injury clinics through the fall and pre-season sports physicals at no charge.
- The Morningside Park Urban Farm in Roanoke, funded by the Carilion Clinic Foundation, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables in a neighborhood considered a “food desert.” The farm also educates area residents on growing their own food, from composting to weeding and harvesting.
- Progress on the Virginia Tech Carilion Biomedical Research Addition, which will double the research capacity of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.
So if you’re in the mood to read an inspiring story, check out all the new developments designed to improve and save lives in our very own backyard.