High-tech robotic imaging equipment introduced at new KU Health System campus

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Imagine using a video game to help perform medical procedures. It's happening now at one hospital in the Kansas City metro.

Advanced technology has been unveiled that can make surgery and associated medical work easier for patients and physicians.

A hint of science fiction has come to the University of Kansas Health System's new Indian Creek Campus. The two imaging rooms contain one of two floroscopy 3-D acquisition machines that are state of the art. Health system leaders say only four locations in the world have this technology.

The exam area is surrounded by robots, which use high-tech x-ray cameras. A lab tech can control them as they provide a three-dimensional image of what's happening inside a patient's body during a procedure.

Alan Reeves, an interventional radiologist with the health system, said this is one of the biggest advances he's seen in recent years.

"I'm not a pilot, but it must be what it's like flying a helicopter," Reeves said.

He said having robots rotate around the room is a luxury. Operating rooms can get crowded during busy times. Reeves said he's seen as many as eight medical professionals working on a patient, and keeping machines out of the way makes more room.

Also, the precise 3-D images the x-ray cameras generate allow doctors to make tiny incisions during surgeries because the detail is so vivid on each picture, which is projected onto a flat-screen television that stands just beside the exam table.

"It has very exquisite vascular details. It allows us to see details on blood vessels, and three-dimensional images that are incredibly useful," Reeves said. "We're able to accomplish a lot over the whole body using image guidance to help us."

The University of Kansas Health System launched the new imaging gear this week, as the new Indian Creek Center had its official grand opening. Hospital leadership told FOX4 this is one of only two American locations that have this space-age equipment.

Kristal Sims, the Indian Creek location manager, said the possibilities are now endless.

"It's like a big video game, really," Sims said. "We can find it, and we can fix it. We can put structures in place that are needed for the patient, like a tube or a drain. We can also inject chemotherapy into the patient so the patient won't get systemic chemotherapy any longer."

One more advantage with the new technology is the convenience. People in Johnson County no longer have to travel to the health system's main campus to get this kind of care.

Doctors that FOX4 spoke with say the robotic imaging room needs a nickname. Hospital leaders are planning to ask the public to vote on a name for those machines, and they'll soon take suggestions on the University of Kansas Health System Facebook page.