New technology using exercise bikes to assist surgical assessment

Friday, 3 July 2009

Patients undergoing surgery at Frenchay and Southmead hospitals can now have their fitness levels accurately assessed thanks to new technology.
North Bristol NHS Trust has taken delivery of two cardiopulmonary exercise (CPEX) assessment machines to help determine patients’ healthcare requirements.
The machines, one at each hospital site, enable patients to judge the possible risks they may face from undergoing surgery before they go under the knife.
Surgical teams can advise the patient around their current state of health and undertake the necessary pre-operative preparations required.
In addition, this technology will also allow medics to test a post-operative patient’s recovery after surgery much more accurately than ever before.
The CPEX equipment consists of an exercise bike linked up electronically to a computer, which monitors various cardio-vascular readings for the patient.
It was purchased with £30,000 from the Friends of Frenchay Hospital as well as a research grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Senior registrar in anaesthetics Dr Steve Tolchard, who won the funding for the machines, hopes to start testing surgical patients at both sites during July.
Dr Tolchard said:
“This sort of assessment equipment is widely used across the US and is now starting to arrive in this country.
“It enables us to have a much better idea of just how fit for surgery a patient is so they can make an informed decision ahead of their operation.
“Surgical teams will also be able to prepare better for higher risk patients and later see how they are recovering afterwards.
“At the moment we don’t have any objective tests that are proven to accurately calculate a patient’s risk from surgery.
“This machine though can properly estimate that risk and enable us to advise the patient about their options.
“The other aspect of this is the valuable research this will provide around vascular and general surgical patients as well as renal transplant patients.
“Assessments undertaken with these machines at Southmead and Frenchay hospitals could help improve surgical patients’ care across the country.”