Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network

Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network

October 23, 2006 09:00 ET

TGH Hyperbaric chamber enhances emergency patient care

A North American first

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Science Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 23, 2006) - Toronto General Hospital (TGH), University Health Network (UHN) today officially opened a new, rectangular Hyperbaric chamber - a North American first in design which will enhance patient care.

"We're proud to have this state-of-the-art chamber at our hospital, which will improve Toronto's capacity to treat emergency Hyperbaric patients," said Dr. Wilf DeMajo, Medical Director of TGH's Hyperbaric Medicine Unit. "We can now treat patients comfortably on stretchers, in a room which can accommodate all the medical devices needed for emergency treatment of critically ill patients."

The new Hyperbaric chamber is used to treat emergencies, most notably decompression sickness (called "the bends"), carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as gas gangrene, necrotizing infection, and compromised flaps or grafts. The treatment involves placing a patient inside the chamber and administering 100 percent pure oxygen and air, at high pressures. The new chamber's first patient was treated in August 2006 for decompression illness. The old cylindrical chamber was removed in September 2006.

Built in Australia by Fink Engineering, the new innovative chamber is shaped like a modern patient room rather than a cylinder and uses state-of-the-art computer technology. It also has a washroom, as some treatments may last several hours. It can accommodate up to eight seated occupants (including at least one health care attendant) at the same time, or two patients on stretchers and two attendants.

"We are pleased that TGH has a new Hyperbaric chamber which will ensure that our police divers have access to comprehensive emergency Hyperbaric care should they ever need it. We applaud the TGH Hyperbaric Medicine team for their commitment to outstanding patient care with this new chamber," said Staff Inspector Tony Crawford of the Marine Unit, Toronto Police Service.

"Toronto Fire Services congratulate TGH on their new chamber, which will ensure that TGH continues to be a leader in Hyperbaric Medicine and offers the critical treatment to Fire Fighters and citizens in Toronto and throughout Ontario," said Fire Chief William Stewart of the Toronto Fire Services.

TGH is Toronto's only hospital-based provider of Hyperbaric services, caring for approximately 100 patients each year. The first Hyperbaric chamber at TGH opened in 1964 to treat workers who developed decompression sickness or "the bends" while digging underground to build Toronto's subway station. The digging was so deep that it went below the water table and water flooded the tunnels. Pressurized air was then pumped into the tunnels to keep the water from flooding the tunnels, but this resulted in some workers needing to be treated in the Hyperbaric chamber.

Toronto General Hospital is a partner in the University Health Network, along with the Toronto Western Hospital and the Princess Margaret Hospital. These teaching hospitals are affiliated with the University of Toronto. The scope of research at Toronto General Hospital has made this institution a national and international source for cardiovascular discovery, education and patient care, as well as for its innovations in transplantation, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, diabetes and genomic medicine. In addition, the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital trains more cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons than any hospital in Canada.
/For further information:

Alexandra Radkewycz
Senior Public Affairs Advisor
Toronto General Hospital
416-340-3895 IN: HEALTH

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