In her short lifetime, seven-year-old Charlee has endured more than 40 surgeries at BC Children’s Hospital to remove recurring growths from her airways. Her rare condition, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, has no known cure and the best treatment for her has been to get the growths surgically removed every one to two months. But this month, after being one of the first kids to benefit from Canada’s first 3D endoscopic surgical technology at the hospital, her family now has a reason to hope.
“Living with this condition has been hard for our family. Although Charlee temporarily gets her breathing and voice back after each surgery, it’s only a matter of time before she get hoarse again and her breathing becomes laboured and more difficult—which signals to us that it’s time once again to make the trip from our home in Nanaimo to Vancouver for her next operation,” says Kathleen Andrews, Charlee’s mom. “This new technology gives us hope that it will help lengthen the amount of time between procedures so that she won’t have to go through so many.”
The country’s first 3D endoscopic system for high-precision head and neck surgeries at BC Children’s, including for complex ear, nose and throat (ENT) structures, provides surgeons here with never-before-seen 3D views during procedures. With this technology, made possible through the support of Hollyburn Properties, these experts will now have a level of visual detail and clarity of the delicate parts of the body they’re operating on, as well as the entire surgical site, that they didn’t have before. This enhanced visibility will improve the safety of surgeries, and will make it possible for surgeons to perform surgical techniques in ways that weren’t possible before with a two-dimensional perspective.
“Imagine the highly precise degree of visibility that surgeons need when performing minimally-invasive surgery on the delicate internal ear, nose and throat structures of children, which are much smaller in size than those of adults. For example, the width of a young child’s voice box opening can be as small as five millimeters across—roughly the size of pea,” says Dr. Neil Chadha, head, division of pediatric otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at BC Children’s Hospital.
“For families like Charlee’s, this innovative technology is expected to not only lengthen the amount of time she can go between surgical procedures, but to also reduce the degree of damage to the tissues that occurs with repeated surgery. This is what the superior 3D visibility of this technology makes possible. It’s transforming the way we’re able to operate, right before our eyes. It represents the future of surgical ENT care and minimally-invasive techniques.”
Although surgical technologies have evolved greatly over the years—with recent technologies making it possible to achieve high-definition visibility in 2D—this new level of visual detail goes even further, showing even the smallest structures within the head and neck much more realistically. From being able to clearly identify the different layers of neighbouring tissues, to accurately understanding the amount of space between delicate structures within the middle ear, the potential of this technology in ENT surgical care—even in its early days—is being described as revolutionary.
While improved surgical outcomes and safety are key benefits of this cutting-edge technology, it will also greatly improve training and education opportunities for residents, newer surgeons and surgical staff, who now have the ability to see the entire surgical site—as well as individual organs—in highly enhanced 3D detail. In fact, for the first time, nurses and surgical teams can better anticipate the flow and sequence of each operation, enabling them to better assist the surgeons.
“We are deeply grateful for the generous leadership of Hollyburn Properties, which has made it possible for BC Children’s to be the first hospital in Canada to pioneer use of this technology,” says Teri Nicholas, president and CEO of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. “This tremendous support reflects their commitment to a thriving community, and has brought the future of surgical care to BC’s kids today.”
"Hollyburn Properties was built on family values and belief in the importance of building vibrant communities where our children can grow. With three generations of the family now working in the company, we know that a healthy beginning for the children of our province is key to a strong future,” says Karen Sander, head of corporate giving at Hollyburn Properties. “We are proud to support BC Children’s, and to enable the hospital to become home to Canada’s first 3D endoscopic system. Together we can build vibrant, healthy communities where everyone, especially children, can thrive."
About BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
BC Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the province devoted exclusively to the care of children. As one of the few pediatric medical centres in North America with a world-class acute care centre, research institute, mental health facility and soon, rehabilitation centre, all on a single campus, BC Children’s provides specialized care, innovative therapies and expertise for BC’s kids, including the sickest and most seriously injured. At BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, we have a vision that every child is healthy and able to fulfill their hopes and dreams. The generosity of donors fuels our ability to help conquer childhood diseases, prevent illness and injury, and prioritize the unique needs of kids in every aspect of their care. Please follow us at @bcchf or visit bcchf.ca for more information.
Hollyburn Properties Limited is a proudly Canadian-owned and operated property management company founded in Vancouver, BC over 40 years ago. It is a family-run business, dedicated to providing premium rental apartment homes across three provinces in Canada. Hollyburn currently manages and operates 90 rental communities nationwide, with over 5600 suites in four cities: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. The organization strives to enhance and strengthen community within it properties and in neighbourhoods surrounding them through partnerships that deliver greater wellbeing for present and future generations.