Health Services,

Cardiology team with another regional first for Gippsland

Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) Cardiology Services is the first regional hospital in Australia to use a new generation of cardiac imaging.

The Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine provides cardiologists with a much clearer vision of a patient’s arteries.

“This means that patient outcomes are improved by close to 20-30% as it allows us to be much more precise when we insert a stent,” LRH Cardiology Director Dr Derek Pol said.

Historically, cardiologists relied on black and white, 2D imagery to deploy stents within the artery.

“This new imagery is much more advanced, giving us a view inside the artery in both colour and 3D, meaning we can see much more clearly the space we are working in and tailor the stent to suit the patient’s anatomy,” Dr Pol said.

The OCT machine is one of a number of advances and milestones for the unit over recent months.

“We’ve passed the 1000 coronary angiogram procedure mark a couple of months ago, held Gippsland’s first Cardiac Coronary Conference in October, performed a number of more complex stenting procedures for the first time and now become the first hospital in regional Australia to use OCT with the updated second-generation catheter. All of these events underline LRH’s determination to provide the best possible care for the residents of Gippsland,” Dr Pol said.

Before the Cardiac Cath Lab was opened in 2018, LRH only provided basic diagnostic input for people with heart conditions.

“Over the last five years, we’ve moved from solely diagnosing the problem to not only treating issues but also being at the leading edge of the type of services we can offer. Prior to 2018 a patient would have to go to Melbourne for these services. Now they can get this closer to home, meaning less travel, less stress, less disconnection from family and friends and significantly better outcomes in terms of recovery,” Dr Pol said.

Gippsland has higher than average numbers when it comes to both heart disease and deaths due to heart disease.

“We are certainly over represented when it comes to heart conditions in Gippsland and while a lot of that can be changed with more emphasis on diet and exercise, the LRH cardiology service is expanding to meet the need that is obviously present.

“In 2024 we are opening an acute cardiac service for patients experiencing a major heart attack. Again, this will allow people to receive local treatment rather than being cared for in a Melbourne hospital. We know that a local response equals better outcomes for the majority of patients, allowing them to be treated and return home quicker and healthier,” Dr Pol said.