Cutting-edge technology, lifesaving equipment and innovation

Being on the cutting-edge of health-care treatment and research requires an investment in new technologies and equipment. By using the latest that science and technology has to offer, such as virtual reality, 3D printing, and robotics, our researchers and medical professionals are pushing the boundaries of science and ultimately create better outcomes for our patients.

INNOVATING TODAY. CREATING TOMORROW.

The latest technology, equipment and innovative ideas

Using state-of-the-art technology is how we are able to deliver 21st century health care right here in Ottawa. We believe that if we get the very best tools into the hands of the very best people, together with the help of our community, we can overcome some of health care’s biggest challenges.

Infirmière travaillant au service des urgences

 

At The Ottawa Hospital, we are leaders in innovative thinking and are committed to tackling the world’s most complex health-care issues. We are pushing the boundaries of what has always been done to find new ways forward. When it comes to your health, and the health of your loved ones, we won’t settle for mediocrity.

Innovations thanks to donor support

Platinum seed planted to transform radiation treatments
This tiny platinum 'seed' helps deliver precise radiation to tumours
3D virtual reality helps our surgeons
Our 3D technology is helping our surgeons and Parkinson's patients
Cyberknife destroys inoperable tumours
This radiosurgery robot is improving outcomes for patients.

Donate today in support of state-of-the-art technology so we can continue to push the boundaries of medicine and revolutionize the care we provide patients.

Be Inspired

Canadian armwrestling legend wins championship after arthroscopic surgery
Devon “No Limits” Larratt is a Canadian armwrestling world champion in both the left and right arms. But even champions face injury and hardships. Devon’s led him to experts at The Ottawa Hospital.
High-risk twin pregnancy during COVID-19 pandemic
Pregnancy in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic
Celebrating a “re-birthday” each year since having a cancerous brain tumour removed
Nine years ago, The Ottawa Hospital saved Kimberly Mountain’s life after the discovery of cancerous brain tumour. Today, she’s confident if the cancer comes back, The Ottawa Hospital will be ready to save her again.

CyberKnife destroys inoperable tumours

The CyberKnife radiosurgery robot at The Ottawa Hospital is more powerful, more accurate, and more versatile than regular radiation, and results in less discomfort, faster recovery, and better outcomes for patients.

Patients don’t need to have a metal halo screwed into their skull when they receive radiation treatment with the CyberKnife. That was one of the appealing factors for neurosurgeon Dr. John Sinclair to bring the radiosurgery robot to The Ottawa Hospital.

With other radiosurgery, patients with brain tumours had to have their head held perfectly still during treatment. A metal frame or “halo” was screwed into their skull and then fastened to the table they’d lie on for treatment.

However, patients do not need to be held still when receiving CyberKnife radiosurgery. The robot uses x-rays and complex precision software to accurately track the tumour. It gives a high dose of radiation to the precise location of the brain tumour while the patient, who is fitted with a custom-made plastic mask, lies on the table.

“CyberKnife has an advantage over regular radiation because it is so much more accurate; its precision is less than a millimetre,” said Dr. Sinclair, Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery at The Ottawa Hospital. “You can give very high doses of radiation right to the lesion [tumour] and get almost no spill over to normal tissue. And as a result, we see greatly improved responses to this type of treatment compared to regular radiation.”

Dr. John Sinclair leaning against bed in the operating room
Dr. John Sinclair was instrumental in bringing the CyberKnife to The Ottawa Hospital.

Dr. Sinclair was first introduced to the CyberKnife when he did a fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in California. CyberKnife was invented at Stanford, so the neurosurgeon was one of the first to see the benefits of this frameless radiosurgery treatment.

When Dr. Sinclair was recruited to The Ottawa Hospital in 2005, he had hoped to bring this novel technology to patients here. At the time, it was a technology that wasn’t approved by Health Canada. So, Dr. Sinclair and his team made a case for robotic radiosurgery, presenting scientific data that validated its success.

The Ottawa Hospital was eventually one of two health research centres in Ontario allowed to test the CyberKnife. However, there was no government funding available to purchase the machine. The hospital appealed to the community, which pulled together and generously raised the entire $4 million to purchase it. CyberKnife began treating patients at The Ottawa Hospital in September 2010.

“Because it’s delivering a high dose, it’s considered similar to surgery without using a scalpel, so patients experience no blood loss, no pain, no ICU stay, or recovery time,” said Dr. Vimoj Nair, one of the radiation oncologists trained to prescribe CyberKnife treatment. “So CyberKnife radiosurgery does provide an option where people can be treated with outpatient techniques.”

With regular radiation, the daily doses were lower and patients had to come to the clinic for more radiation treatments overall. Regular radiation treatment could range from five to six weeks. With CyberKnife, radiation is focused precisely on the tumour, allowing larger doses to be given daily, therefore giving the total treatment in one to six days. The hospital’s CyberKnife has gained a reputation for improving treatment of various tumours. Dr. Nair said that because it is one of only three in Canada, patients from British Columbia to the Maritimes are occasionally referred to The Ottawa Hospital for treatment.

“At first, we would treat one tumour,” said Dr. Sinclair. “Now, we treat five or six individual tumours at a time and spare the rest of the brain. We’re sending radiation only to those metastatic tumours. There is a proportion of patients who develop cognitive problems a few months after whole-brain radiation. But with radiosurgery, because we give a higher dose of radiation only to the actual tumours, patients have improved outcomes, and so their quality of life is better.”

This has meant an increase in the number of patients having multiple tumours treated in the same session.

“Treating several tumours at once helps keep the patient’s clinic visits to a minimum,” said Radiation Therapist Julie Gratton, who has worked with CyberKnife since it was installed at The Ottawa Hospital. “Targeting individual tumours rather than treating the whole organ helps spare healthy tissues and reduce side effects.”

The CyberKnife robot
The CyberKnife at The Ottawa Hospital is one of only three in Canada.
Julie Gratton stands in front of the CyberKnife.
Radiation Therapist Julie Gratton has given CyberKnife treatments to patients since 2010.

Until 2017, 1,825 patients had been  treated with the CyberKnife. In 2018, 359 patients received 1,824 CyberKnife treatments. Gratton said that because more tumours are being treated at once in each patient, the number of treatments given per year has increased as expected.

Although 90 percent of CyberKnife treatments are for malignant or benign brain tumours, CyberKnife is also being used to treat tumours in other parts of the body. Because it doesn’t require a frame to keep the area receiving radiation still, CyberKnife’s image guidance system is used to treat tumours in organs that move constantly, such as the lungs, kidneys, liver, prostate gland, and lymph nodes. CyberKnife can precisely align the radiation beam to the tumour even when it moves. The method of tracking tumours in organs and soft tissue has been improved by research at The Ottawa Hospital.

Read more about how our team is increasing the success rate of this already powerful and precise treatment.


Thanks to generous donor support, The Ottawa Hospital is providing advanced treatment with state-of-the-art technology.

More Inspiring Stories

Canadian armwrestling legend wins championship after arthroscopic surgery
Devon “No Limits” Larratt is a Canadian armwrestling world champion in both the left and right arms. But even champions face injury and hardships. Devon’s led him to experts at The Ottawa Hospital.
Decoding the mystery of Parkinson’s disease
While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery, dedicated researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are gaining ground—determined to solve the puzzle.
Local activist donor pledges $500,000 to take on cancer
Gavin Murphy is unwavering when it comes to his desire to maintain a world-class health care system in our city. As a result, he’s willing to step forward and be an activist donor.

Platinum seeds planted to transform CyberKnife treatment

Made-in-Ottawa platinum seeds are improving an already incredibly powerful and precise radiosurgery treatment system for tumours in the head, neck, and organs, such as lungs and liver.

The “seeds” are one millimetre by three millimetres, a third the size of a grain of rice, and made of platinum. These tiny seeds, created by researchers at The Ottawa Hospital, improve the CyberKnife robot’s accuracy in detecting and delivering precise doses of radiation to tumours in the brain and body.

Hand holding a grain of rice and platinum seed
Platinum seeds, a third the size of a grain of rice, are improving the accuracy of CyberKnife treatments.

CyberKnife uses X-rays and complex precision software to track and focus radiation directly to the tumour. With accuracy of less than a millimetre, there is virtually no radiation spill over to normal tissue. As a result, patients have much better responses to this type of treatment compared with traditional radiation where a larger area is targeted.

“Because CyberKnife delivers a high dose, it’s considered similar to surgery without using a scalpel, so no blood loss, no pain, no ICU stay, or recovery time,” said Dr. Vimoj Nair, one of the radiation oncologists trained to prescribe CyberKnife treatment.

Ninety percent of CyberKnife treatments are for malignant or benign brain tumours, but CyberKnife’s image guidance system can also treat tumours in organs that move constantly, such as the lungs, kidneys, liver, prostate gland, and lymph nodes. It can precisely align the radiation beam to the tumour even when it moves. But radiation oncologists and researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are refining techniques to further enhance the performance of this state-of-the-art technology to improve patients’ outcomes. These techniques are ultimately changing radiosurgery practice.

Dr. Vimoj Nair
Radiation oncologist Dr. Vimoj Nair said platinum seeds improve the accuracy of CyberKnife radiosurgery.

“One unique thing that the CyberKnife research team at The Ottawa Hospital has come up with are in-house designed platinum MRI-compatible seeds that can be implanted around the moving tumour,” said Dr. Nair, who is also a clinician investigator at The Ottawa Hospital and an assistant professor at University of Ottawa. “We can see the tumour and the seeds better on the MRI, and the CyberKnife software can detect and track the motion of the tumour with the help of these seeds. The robotic arm of the CyberKnife matches the target motion to treat the tumour more accurately while the patient breaths normally.”

The Ottawa Hospital is one of the first centres in North America to use these platinum seeds. In the past, oncologists used tiny gold seeds, but they were difficult to see in the MRI sequences used to view the tumour. This made the treatment planning less accurate. Dr. Janos Szanto, medical physicist, and Dr. Len Avruch, radiologist (now retired), were the initial brains who took platinum wire (otherwise destined to be jewelry), cut it into minute pieces, and then put through a sterilization process to ensure the seeds were appropriate for insertion into the human body. It worked. They were visible to the naked eye, more visible in an MRI than the gold seeds, and could be detected by CyberKnife.

Julie Gratton with patient beside CyberKnife robot
Radiation therapist Julie has delivered CyberKnife treatments since 2010.

“The benefit of this technique is we see both our target and seeds more clearly together, which provides the best use of advanced imaging and improves the accuracy,” said Dr. Nair, who called the discovery novel research and application that positions The Ottawa Hospital very favourably on the world stage.

Dr. Nair was the first author on the research paper published about the platinum seeds. He said that researchers and clinicians are continually sharing innovative CyberKnife techniques they’ve developed, like this one, at conferences and with other health centres across Canada and globally. In September 2018, he gave presentations on The Ottawa Hospital practices on clinical uses of CyberKnife at a conference in India.

“We can see the tumour and the seeds better on the MRI, and the CyberKnife software can detect and track the motion of the tumour with the help of these seeds.”

Read more about the history of the community-funded CyberKnife at The Ottawa Hospital.


The Ottawa Hospital is providing advanced treatment with state-of-the-art technology for the best possible patient outcomes.

More Inspiring Stories

Canadian armwrestling legend wins championship after arthroscopic surgery
Devon “No Limits” Larratt is a Canadian armwrestling world champion in both the left and right arms. But even champions face injury and hardships. Devon’s led him to experts at The Ottawa Hospital.
High-risk twin pregnancy during COVID-19 pandemic
Pregnancy in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic
Celebrating a “re-birthday” each year since having a cancerous brain tumour removed
Nine years ago, The Ottawa Hospital saved Kimberly Mountain’s life after the discovery of cancerous brain tumour. Today, she’s confident if the cancer comes back, The Ottawa Hospital will be ready to save her again.

3D printing helps complex surgery to remove 50 tumours, save uterus

Maureen suffered from fibroids in her uterus and was told by five doctors that she needed a hysterectomy. However, with the help of a 3D-printed model of Maureen’s uterus, Dr. Sony Singh removed all 50 tumours and left her uterus intact, allowing her to carry a baby if she decides to.

The uterus fits in the palm of Dr. Sony Singh’s hand. The large pink lumps inside the clear, plastic 3D-printed model are fibroids, or tumours, and there are more than 50 of them. To ensure his patient could carry a child in the future, Dr. Singh had to do something that had never been done before.

Maureen had suffered for years with abdominal pain. Over the past six years, she was told by five doctors that she had so many fibroids in her uterus, her only option was to have a hysterectomy – complete removal of her womb. She refused this option.

“I will die with my womb. Nobody will touch it,” said Maureen (who did not want her last name used).

She was referred to the Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Centre at The Ottawa Hospital, where she saw the Minimally Invasive Gynecology team of doctors and nurses. Dr. Singh, a surgeon and the Elaine Jolly Research Chair in Surgical Gynecology, told Maureen he could remove all the fibroids, and she would not need a hysterectomy.

Dr. Sony Singh uses 3D printed model for complex surgery.
Holding the 3D printed model of Maureen’s uterus, Dr. Sony Singh examined the MRIs and 3D renderings – the images that appear on the operating room screens that doctors can move to get a 3D view of the surgical area.

“Maureen had close to 50 fibroids and we wanted to make sure her uterus was able to carry a baby in the future and function normally,” said Dr. Singh. “But we needed help to plan the complicated surgery to remove them.”

Dr. Teresa Flaxman, Research Associate at The Ottawa Hospital, said it was difficult to see tumours in the patient’s uterus on an MRI. So, she contacted the hospital’s 3D Printing Lab. She had heard how 3D-printed models were helping orthopaedic surgeons see exactly what they were operating on, so they could better plan the surgery.

In 2016, thanks to a donor’s generosity, The Ottawa Hospital acquired a medical 3D printer that uses acrylics and plastics to create exact replicas of patients’ bones and organs from a CT scan or MRI. With the opening of the 3D Printing Lab in February 2017, the hospital became the first in Canada to have an integrated medical 3D-printing program for pre-surgical planning and education.

Dr. Adnan Sheikh, Director of The Ottawa Hospital’s 3D Printing Program, said the Department of Orthopaedics is one of the main users of the lab, which prints models for orthopaedic oncology surgeons to plan operations in advance, reducing surgery times and costs.

“3D printing is revolutionizing the way we look at anatomy,” said Orthopaedic Surgeon and Oncologist Dr. Joel Werier, who has used 3D-printed models of his patients’ hips and bones since the lab opened. “It adds another perspective to how we view tumours, how we plan our surgery techniques, and our ability to offer precision surgery.”

Bones are relatively easy to create from CT scans and MRIs, said Dr. Flaxman. However, soft tissues, such as uterine tissue, is harder to identify, and a model hadn’t been made of one before.

“We’re going to be one of the first hospitals internationally to study how we can provide this improved care by using 3D-printed models in planning surgery for women’s health.”

Dr. Flaxman and other researchers from the Women’s Health Centre worked with Waleed Althobaity and Olivier Miguel at the 3D Printing Lab to create 3D images from an MRI of Maureen’s uterus. Then the lab printed a model that allowed them to see exactly where the fibroids and the lining of the uterus were located.

“This was a very challenging case,” said Dr. Sheikh. “The multiple fibroids within the uterine cavity made it very difficult to print, and we had to identify each one of them, in order to replicate the exact anatomy on a 3D-printed model. We used a softer, flexible material to create the model that was more consistent with uterine tissue.”

The model took 14 hours to print. Although the model was scaled to eight times smaller than her actual uterus, her fibroid-filled uterus was 20 times bigger than normal. Having a 3D-printed model was a huge asset to the gynecological surgery team, which included surgeons Drs. Singh and Innie Chen.

“This model helped to provide a good visual aspect. To have a model in my hands during surgery was incredible,” said Dr. Singh. “At the same time, we also had 3D images that I could look at on a TV screen in the operating room. It seems very futuristic, but in the operating room I was able to turn the image of the uterus at any angle or degree that I wanted, so I could see it from different perspectives, which helped during surgery.”

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a 3D version is worth a million words. The 3D-printed models are not only helping surgeons, but also helping patients like Maureen understand their illness and prepare for their surgery. For patients, seeing a 3D model of the problem inside their bodies makes it tangible and real.

“Just before my surgery, Dr. Singh brought the model to me,” said Maureen. “He explained how he could use it in the surgery to see where the fibroids are, and he asked my permission to use it during the operation.”

She agreed, knowing that it would help other women suffering similar experiences. Dr. Singh successfully removed the fibroids, sparing Maureen from having a hysterectomy.

“We wanted to save her uterus in hopes that she can carry a pregnancy in the future, which wasn’t a hope for her up until this point,” said Dr. Singh.

“By working together with the 3D Printing Lab at The Ottawa Hospital, we’re going to be one of the first hospitals internationally to study how we can provide this improved care by using 3D-printed models in planning surgery for women’s health,” said Dr. Flaxman.

Dr. Sheikh said that, since the success of this first use of a 3D-printed model for gynecological surgery, the 3D Printing Lab is already working on a couple of other similar projects with the Minimally Invasive Gynecology team to offer other women alternatives to major surgery in the future.

Maureen was so grateful the gynecology team was able to spare her uterus, that she donated to the Guardian Angel Program to thank them.


The Ottawa Hospital is improving patient care by changing and refining medical protocols and practices with innovative technology.

More Inspiring Stories

Canadian armwrestling legend wins championship after arthroscopic surgery
Devon “No Limits” Larratt is a Canadian armwrestling world champion in both the left and right arms. But even champions face injury and hardships. Devon’s led him to experts at The Ottawa Hospital.
High-risk twin pregnancy during COVID-19 pandemic
Pregnancy in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic
Celebrating a “re-birthday” each year since having a cancerous brain tumour removed
Nine years ago, The Ottawa Hospital saved Kimberly Mountain’s life after the discovery of cancerous brain tumour. Today, she’s confident if the cancer comes back, The Ottawa Hospital will be ready to save her again.

Your support today unleashes
the potential of tomorrow

Every day people come to The Ottawa Hospital searching for answers; and every day, our innovative research brings hope to patients and their families. Every life changed, and every life saved through compassionate care and groundbreaking work at our hospital is made possible because of you.

We want you to be at our side; to help us push new discoveries and treatments forward, equip our team with the latest technology and equipment and ensure that our patients receive the very best care.