Written by Michelle Abt
Torrance Memorial Medical Center is committed to providing the families
and community of the South Bay with the most advanced care available.
According to Dr. John McNamara, chief medical officer, the medical center
is continually looking for ways to improve patient outcomes, and technology
is an integral part of that effort.
“We want to make it possible for families to get top-notch care without
leaving the South Bay, which means making investments in the latest and
most effective approaches to surgery, diagnostics and other types of treatment,”
Dr. McNamara says.
In the last several years, Torrance Memorial has added to its technological
capabilities in several key areas of treatment and diagnostics, including
breast cancer, other cancers, cardiovascular care, stroke treatment and
its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
1. State-Of-The-Art Cancer Treatment with The Truebeam® Radiotherapy System
The Hunt Cancer Institute at Torrance Memorial offers the latest in radiation
cancer treatment with the use of the TrueBeam® Radiotherapy System,
a stereotactic radiotherapy treatment that can be used to treat tumors
anywhere in the body. The system is very precise—down to the submillimeter—as
well as flexible, allowing doctors to target extremely small tumors with
less damage to the surrounding tissue. It is particularly useful for tumors
close to other organs. It also allows for the treatment of patients who
have inoperable tumors or who previously underwent irradiation.
2. Highly Advanced 3-D Mapping to Treat Arrhythmias
Torrance Memorial electrophysiologists use a 3-D electroanatomical mapping
system to create a three-dimensional model of any chamber of the heart.
That model is then used to perform an ablation procedure to treat arrhythmia.
Torrance Memorial recently acquired highly advanced technology specifically
designed for the mapping of complex atrial and ventricular arrhythmias,
making ablation treatment even more precise and effective.
Additionally Torrance Memorial’s electrophysiology department uses
the Topera® 3-D Rotor Mapping Solution for rotor mapping of persistent
atrial fibrillation (AFib). The Topera mapping makes treatment of ongoing
AFib much more effective.
3. Earlier Diagnosis of Breast Cancer Made Possible with 3-D Mammography
The Torrance Memorial Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Center
was the first medical center in the South Bay to offer 3-D mammography
technology (Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, or DBT). Women who have routine
breast cancer screenings using 3-D digital mammography are more likely
to discover disease in its earliest stages when there is the best chance
for successful treatment.
“DBT allows radiologists to examine breast tissue one layer at a
time, making it possible to detect early-stage tumors previously undetectable
with 2-D mammography alone,” Dr. Patricia Sacks, MD, medical director
of the breast diagnostic center, explains. “This is critical for
women with dense breast tissue because their breast cancer risk is three
times higher than those with lower density tissue.”
4. Expanding the Use of Robotic Surgery to Improve Outcomes and Reduce
Six years ago, when Torrance Memorial began using the da Vinci ® Robotic
Surgical system to improve patient care, the system was used primarily
for urological and gynecological surgery. This innovative medical technology
advanced certain minimally invasive procedures and enabled surgeons to
perform extremely delicate techniques using small incisions with a high
level of precision and accuracy. The result for patients has been less
downtime, shorter hospital stays, reduced blood loss and less scarring.
Torrance Memorial continues to stay at the forefront of robotic surgery
by applying these techniques to other surgical specialties, including
cardiothoracic, gastrointestinal, ear-nose-throat and oncology surgery.
5. State-of-the-Art Hybrid Operating Room Advances Minimally Invasive Surgical
Options for Cardiac Patients
The use of minimally invasive, catheter-based techniques for complex cardiac
procedures is becoming increasingly common, and these approaches are improving
and saving lives. The cardiac surgeons at Torrance Memorial can do both
minimally invasive procedures and traditional open surgeries in its state-of-the-art,
hybrid operating room (OR) at Lundquist Lurie Cardiovascular Institute.
Like other interventional cardiology (catheterization lab) rooms, the hybrid
OR features sophisticated imaging systems for catheter-based procedures.
The OR also meets the sterility and equipment standards of a traditional
operating room. This allows providers to perform minimally invasive procedures
and switch to open surgery if necessary, all without transferring the patient.
The hybrid OR is used to perform a full range of endovascular services,
including abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, carotid artery stenting and
transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
6. Telestroke Partnership with Cedars-Sinai Offers 24/7 Access to Advanced
Recognized by Los Angeles County EMS as a designated Comprehensive Stroke
Center, Torrance Memorial has one of the most comprehensive stroke programs
in the South Bay. To further improve stroke care, Torrance Memorial has
partnered with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to develop a Telestroke program
that offers 24/7 access to stroke specialists.
In place since 2016, the system uses teleconferencing technology to allow
neurologists who are on call at Cedars-Sinai to diagnose patients at the
Torrance Memorial emergency department. This 24-hour coverage is critical
to saving lives and protecting patients’ quality of life.
“When patients are having a stroke, minutes matter,” Dr. Shlee
Song, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai department of neurology stroke
program, says. “The telestroke program is designed to get patients
diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible, without having to be transported
to another hospital.”
7. Improved Diagnosis and Treatment for Vestibular Conditions with Balance Goggles
The vestibular organ is a small structure in your inner ear responsible
for helping you balance. When the vestibular doesn’t function properly,
it can cause vertigo, dizziness and balance problems. Rather than use
medicine to treat the symptoms of vestibular disorders, many doctors and
rehabilitation specialists are successfully treating vestibular disorder
through an exercise-based approach called vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT).
The specialists at Torrance Memorial use infrared goggles—the very
latest technology—to determine the origin of the vestibular disorder.
Since vestibular organ and eye reflexes are closely connected, examination
of abnormal eye movement with the goggles helps accurately detect the
specific type of problem. Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, this
information allows the rehab specialist to create an appropriate, individualized
8. Surgical Precision for Breast Cancer Patients with MarginProbe®
The breast surgeons at Torrance Memorial use the MarginProbe during lumpectomy
procedures to test the edges, or margins, of the removed breast tissue.
The system can detect the presence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS),
which is a non-invasive breast cancer. It also detects invasive breast cancer.
Based on this real-time information, the surgeon is able to make an immediate
decision about whether to remove additional tissue from the tumor site
or complete the lumpectomy procedure—rather than waiting for a pathology
report, which could take hours or even several days.
The use of MarginProbe results in 56% fewer women needing a second surgery.
Other benefits of MarginProbe include a higher likelihood of cancer-free
or “clean” margins, resulting in reduced patient worry and anxiety.
9. Advanced CT Imaging Improves Heart Procedure Outcomes
Traditionally CT scanners have been used for the noninvasive diagnosis
of cardiovascular disease. In a major upgrade, Torrance Memorial will
be acquiring a CT scanner that goes well beyond diagnosing and evaluating
aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve). This new technology can
identify different types of plaque, assess blood flow through the heart
and even evaluate the molecular processes causing coronary atherosclerosis
(hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
10. A Level III NICU That Keeps Our Tiniest Patients Close to Home
Torrance Memorial has made ongoing investments to provide advanced methods
of care to sick infants in its level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
- High-frequency ventilators to rescue infants experiencing respiratory failure
on a conventional ventilator
- Noninvasive (nasal) mechanical ventilation, which has been shown to reduce
long-term lung problems and shorten hospital stays
- Inhaled nitric oxide therapy (INO) for newborns experiencing severe respiratory
distress syndrome and severe respiratory failure not responsive to conventional
- Therapeutic hypothermia (whole-body cooling) for newborns who have experienced
severe fetal distress and are at risk for brain damage
Additionally the recent NICU renovation offers 23 private rooms, each fully
equipped to provide a complete range of newborn intensive care and each
large enough to accommodate the baby’s family. These private rooms
provide babies and their families with a quiet, controlled environment,
leading to better outcomes for sick or premature infants.
The NICU rooms include a webcam system that continuously streams live video
of the baby 24/7 so parents can check in anytime. This allows parents
to introduce the new baby to siblings who may be too young to visit the
NICU or to out-of-town family members.