The urology services offered by the Iris Network public hospitals, are very extensive. Whether patients are children or adults, we are able to offer medical treatment and also surgical treatment for all conditions, associated with the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive system. The Iris Network is a pioneer in this field and stands at the forefront of current scientific research.
At the Brugmann University Hospital, from the late 1960s, the department led by Professor Grégoir – whose reputation went well beyond the borders of Belgium – was instrumental in the development of urological surgery (prostatectomy and antireflux procedures, for example) and initiated numerous scientific studies. The CHU Brugmann, in addition to established examinations and treatments (transrectal ultrasound, cystoscopy, etc.), also offers the very latest techniques. It is currently conducting research into brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). This form of locoregional therapy involves the implantation of minute radioactive beads in the prostate – a treatment that proves effective for some men with localised prostate cancer and does not cause any significant secondary effects.
In the field of urology, prostate cancer benefits from the presence of a major care and research centre. Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in men over the age of 50 and the second leading cause of death from cancer; moreover, its incidence is increasing by 8% each year. Radical prostatectomy is the reference treatment for localised prostate cancer. This surgical procedure has seen outstanding advances in recent years with the development of mini-invasive laparoscopy surgery, most recently robotic-assisted.
With the acquisition in 2010 by the Bordet Institute of the Da Vinci SI surgical robot, with the support of the Friends of the Bordet Institute, the Iris Network now boasts the very latest in surgical technology. This telemanipulation robot used in coeliscopic surgery comprises a control and imaging console, from which the surgeon operates, a 3-dimensional vision system that offers enlargement as required and an electromechanical carriage assembly, with three or four articulated arms, connected to the patient via trocars (surgical instruments used to puncture the body cavity). The surgical instruments used, like tiny intra-abdominal hands, allow for much greater fluidity than in conventional laparoscopy. For radical prostatectomy, the Da Vinci SI robot is able to offer surgery that preserves the genital organs, continence and erection and which meets the criteria of a curative treatment for cancer by complete elimination of the tumour. Its effectiveness is reflected in the figures: in one year, more than 200 patients benefited from this surgery at the Jules Bordet Institute, which represents around a 20% increase in activity.
The other institutions that are part of the integrated Iris Network, now have access to this high technology, and for research purposes also. Robot-assisted surgical equipment has now become accessible to national health system patients.
The Iris Sud hospitals at Etterbeek-Ixelles benefit from the latest generation lithotripter, enabling the Network to treat urinary lithiasis - a common and painful condition - at a specialist site on an out-patient basis. This condition can have serious consequences if the ureter becomes obstructed. The pulverisation of calculi by extracorporeal shock waves (ultrasound), known as lithotripsy, enables the stone fragments to be eliminated naturally; this technique has become the standard, replacing once aggressive surgery that is no longer required. The Etterbeek-Ixelles site now welcomes patients who are transferred from other Network hospitals.
Caring for children
The Iris paediatric urology reference centre is based at the Queen Fabiola Children’s Hospital (QFCUH).
It deals mainly with deformities of the kidneys, of the urinary tract and genital organs. These deformities are usually detected by antenatal ultrasound or as a result of urinary infections or abdominal illnesses. The QFCUH also treats urological infections, lithiasis (kidney stones) and urinary tract cancer.
Urologists at the QFCUH have acquired particular expertise in mini-invasive treatment (laparoscopy, retroperitoneoscopy) of the urinary tract. The majority of the procedures offered use these innovative techniques.