Life-changing £1.8m KGH unit set to open

Inside the unit.
Inside the unit.

A unit at KGH which will allow patients needing facial surgery to see a 3D image of how they could look post-operation is set to open.

The Rothwell Road hospital is officially opening its £1.8m new maxillo-facial and orthodontic unit on Friday, June 7.

The new unit has doubled the size of the department and expanded and significantly improved services for patients – and staff - and enabled the trust to address increased demands on the service.

Technology in the unit includes a state-of-the-art new cone beam CT scanner, 3D printer and intra-oral scanner allowing digital pictures to be taken of the inside of the mouth and teeth rather than a plaster cast.

Richard Martin, 32, from Burton Latimer, has been a frequent visitor to the hospital’s maxillo-facial unit after being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

He is the hospital’s guest of honour who will officially open the new unit.

Over 28 years Richard has had 25 operations at KGH and Addenbrookes Hospital to correct the gap between the upper lip and mouth caused when a person’s face does not knit together properly while in the womb.

Mr Martin, who is married to Nicola, and has three children, Lilly, six, Amy, four, and Evie, 13 weeks, said: “As a child I was very conscious of my condition and very shy but I have grown in confidence over the years.

“I have had tremendous support from the hospital’s maxillo-facial unit throughout my journey and I am delighted that the hospital has invested in this new unit.

“The new cone beam CT scanner images sound very interesting because they would give you an idea what you might look like after your operation – before you actually have it.

“Having been through 25 operations myself I know how important this is to patients. I think the new maxillo-facial and orthodontics unit will be a very important facility for local people.”

Richard is now team co-ordinator for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome in Kettering. He was a competitive gymnast between the age of five and 24 in both the disability and mainstream categories and was a British team member in the British Gymnastics Association competing in the UK and overseas.

The new unit’s facilities include: a state-of-the-art X-ray facility with an ability to do 3D ‘CT scanner’ type X-rays, a state-of-the-art laboratory with 3D printer and intra-oral scanner, two surgical treatment suites, two orthodontic rooms, one trauma room, two consultation rooms, a health and wellbeing room for nurse-led services such as oral health guidance and dental impressions, designated children’s waiting area with toys and a TV, a recovery room for patients who have had minor surgery and a laboratory treatment room.

It is staffed by three maxillo-facial and two orthodontic consultants, supported by five junior doctors, 18 nurses, seven administrative staff and two laboratory technologists.

Consultant orthodontist, and clinical lead for orthodontics, Julian O’Neill, said: “We are delighted that our new maxillo-facial and orthodontics unit is now complete.

“For the last 41 years we have used small and somewhat cramped facilities in our outpatients department and have long wanted to expand and improve the way we deliver our care.

“Now our new unit means we can offer improved services for our 12,500 patients per year in a much better environment with more privacy and the benefits of the latest in digital technology.”

Consultant maxillo-facial surgeon and clinical lead for maxillo-facial surgery, Colin Harrop, said: “The new unit has two dedicated surgical suites rather than one which will give us the capacity to see patients in a more timely way and in a better and more modern environment.”

The unit’s senior sister, Nikki Dalziel, said: “For the first time we will have a cone beam CT scanner which enables a 3D image of person’s head and neck to be produced.

“For patients who need face altering surgery we will be able to create a computer-generated image of that person’s actual face to show them what they could potentially look like after surgery.

“This will be reassuring and help them have a realistic feel for what they could potentially like after surgery – easing what can be a great worry for them.”

Other improvements in the new unit include treatment rooms equipped with the latest technology for oral surgery and orthodontic treatments and better waiting and changing facilities.

The hospital’s maxillo-facial and orthodontic lab is also much improved. It supports patients by producing devices used to support patients with teeth and jaw problems.

Lab manager, Philip Mason, said: “Digital technology is revolutionising how we work.

“In the new unit we have equipment such as a new intra-oral scanner – a device which takes 3D photographs of the inside of a person’s mouth and teeth.

“This will help us to make some of our orthodontic work easier and more comfortable for patients by reducing the need for things like plaster casts of people’s teeth.”