THE North-East’s first operating theatre dedicated to treating people with vascular disease, one of the UK’s biggest killers, has opened.

NHS bosses have invested £1.9m in the new ‘hybrid’ endovascular operating theatre at the University Hospital of North Durham in Durham City.

The new facility includes equipment that allows clinicians to treat patients with diseased veins and arteries in a more efficient and patient-friendly way.

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Patients with blockages in their blood vessels are treated in the theatre using endovascular (X-ray based) keyhole techniques. This type of treatment is usually easier and better for the patient in terms of comfort and recovery time.

Dennis Moody, 81, from Coxhoe in County Durham, was the first patient to receive life-saving treatment at the new theatre.

He said: “I’ve had chest problems all of my life - ever since working as a miner.

"When a scan of my chest revealed that I had a life-threatening condition linked to an artery that had swollen and was at risk of rupturing, the hospital booked me in for treatment immediately.”

“I was scared, but the surgeon was so reassuring and the care I received on the ward was fabulous. They fitted me with a stent and fixed the aneurysm, and I recovered very quickly. I was delighted that I was able to leave intensive care at the hospital so quickly and go back home to be with my wife, Una.

"I was in hospital for two days and then I was looked after at home by the community nurse.

“The operation has helped me to live a better life - my scar is much smaller than I expected and I feel champion now.”

If the less invasive endovascular route is not successful, surgeons can convert to open surgery to fix the problem there and then.

The new hybrid theatre also means that those with more complex vascular disease no longer need to travel and can now be treated locally.

Philip Davey, consultant vascular and endovascular surgeon, said: “This is the first time that X-ray imaging has been co-located in an operating theatre in the North -East.

“Keyhole techniques with X-rays can be better for the patient because they offer a less invasive way of managing vascular disease and often avoid the need for a general anaesthetic. Consequently, patients typically need less time in hospital and their recovery should be quicker.”