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Diagnostic Imaging

Hospital for Sick Children creates leading-edge cardiac centre

Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children has broken ground on a $34 million Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit that will include two catheterization labs, with an integrated MRI, a cardiac ultrasound machine, a catheter navigation system and new systems for storing and sharing research information.

This state-of-the-art facility will allow new innovations in minimally invasive alternatives to open-heart surgery. The Hospital for Sick Children is internationally recognized for its ability to use ultrasound to diagnose congenital heart disease, and is a world leader in pioneering new treatments without open-heart surgery.

The hospital, known as Sick Kids, is also pleased to announce it meets the rigorous American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for cardiovascular centres. The guidelines, published in Pediatrics in March 2002, cover areas such as patient outcomes; quality of care; the range of treatments, interventions and surgeries provided; staffing and training; equipment and facilities; and the centre's relationship to other organizations and programs within the health care community.

"We've been collaborating closely with our partner hospitals to ensure children from across Ontario get the very best care available, when they need it," said Dr. Glen Van Arsdell, head of cardiovascular surgery at The Hospital for Sick Children. "Together we have created a seamless transfer from cardiologists in other cities who diagnose the problem, to surgery in Toronto, back to follow-up care in the patient's home town."

Over the past two years, the Sick Kids Cardiac Centre has hired more than 100 additional nurses, six cardiologists, and a cardiovascular surgeon to support more babies and children in the operating room, in the critical care unit, on the inpatient ward and during follow-up clinics.

Some healthcare professionals in the Cardiac Centre have received French language training at an intermediate or advanced level. Bilingual signage has been installed and cardiac information materials for families have been translated into French.

The hospital has worked with the Ontario government, Ronald McDonald House and local hotels to provide affordable accommodations for parents whose children stay at Sick Kids for cardiac care and surgery. Sick Kids also provides financial assistance to some families for daily amenities.

The hospital has worked with emergency transport services to ensure that children from across Ontario can be safely and quickly brought to Sick Kids for the care they need. Once children are stabilized after surgery, the hospital provides appropriate transportation back to their local children's hospital or home.

One in 100 children are born with a heart defect, and more than half require surgery. Each year, Sick Kids staff members perform about 600 paediatric cardiac operations, and another 1,000 minimally invasive procedures in the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab.

Sick Kids' advances in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery have been saving and improving lives around the world since the 1950s, when Dr. William Mustard invented the first surgical approach to save "blue babies." Most recently, in July 2003, Sick Kids announced physicians were using a new minimally invasive procedure, called cardiac cryoablation, to correct abnormally fast heartbeats more safely and effectively.

The Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Its mission is to provide the best in family-centred care, to lead in scientific and clinical advancement, and to prepare the next generation of leaders in child health. For more information, visit