State-of-the-Art Surgical Suites Open


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) has opened a new 72,000-square-foot surgical center that was uniquely designed to take advantage of the latest medical technology while enhancing patient safety and efficiency of care.

OR Opening Day

“This new facility will enable us to continue to perform the best possible surgery for cancer,” said Roger S. Wilson, MD, Chairman of MSKCC’s Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. “In addition, the facility is designed to be sufficiently innovative to take advantage of what’s available today as well as having built-in opportunities for growth in the future.”

Approximately a decade in the making, the facility opened in May 2006 and cost an estimated $70 million. It occupies a five-story extension that was built on top of an existing structure, suspended - as if from a bridge - and supported by four enormous columns driven through to the bedrock below. Nurses, physicians, and anesthesiologists collaborated from the beginning to ensure that everyone had a say about what the new environment would be like, and tested everything first hand in an actual operating room mockup.

OR Opening Day

Surgery, and in particular cancer surgery, has many special requirements. The new facility includes 21 operating rooms that incorporate the most advanced technologies for the management and treatment of cancer. It features:

  • intraoperative radiation therapy rooms that are among only a handful in the world, and allow patients with certain cancers to be treated with a full course of radiation immediately upon having a tumor removed - this technique may replace several weeks of smaller, daily doses of radiation therapy after surgery
  • intraoperative imaging suites, which provide the ability to utilize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during surgery to help surgeons determine the success of a procedure during the operation, potentially eliminating the need for a subsequent surgery to remove residual cancer (this will initially be used for neurosurgery later this year)
  • the capability for minimally invasive surgery as well as robotic surgery
  • leading-edge visual technologies

One of the most dynamic innovations in the new facility is the “Wall of Knowledge,” which is deployed in all 21 operating rooms. This state-of-the-art visual system is comprised of four large, wall-mounted flat-panel displays that include complete, real-time patient information - generated by diverse information systems, physiological monitors, and medical devices - as well as video of the ongoing surgery, current laboratory data, and radiologic images. This technology will permit surgeons and nurses to have both a visual image of an operation as it proceeds, plus constantly updated information on a patient’s status - such as blood pressure, pulse, and oxygenation - on the screen.

“Situational awareness is vital in the operating room, and this sharing of information will enhance patient safety, contribute to efficiency and learning, and allow continuing improvements in patient care,” said MSKCC’s Director of Perioperative Nursing Aileen Killen, RN, PhD.

OR Opening Day

The leading-edge technology featured in the surgical facility has not been at the expense of patients and their families, whose needs were of paramount importance in the design process. Greeted the moment they step off the elevator, patients are shepherded through the entire presurgical process by the nursing staff of the Presurgical Center. After surgery, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) has no more than four beds together in one “bay,” cutting down on noise and lack of privacy.

Nurses also have a wireless “cart system” that enables them to bring all their tools to patients’ bedsides. Computerized touch tablets, which are synchronized to the patient’s electronic medical record, are featured at the patients’ bedside in the pre- and post-surgical areas so that nurses can immediately access necessary patient information

Memorial Sloan Kettering Surgical Center by the Numbers

  • Located on the 6th floor of Memorial Hospital, the surgical center occupies 72,000 square feet and spans four MSKCC buildings.
  • 21 operating rooms range in size from 600 to 800 square feet; the four 800-square-foot rooms are specially designed to accommodate orthopedic and neurosurgeries .
  • All 21 operating rooms are equipped for minimally invasive surgery.
  • 2 lead-lined intraoperative radiation rooms are designed to deliver targeted radiotherapy during surgery.
  • 1 intraoperative MRI-equipped operating room; the room is suspended within the building to eliminate vibrations (2 additional rooms have the capacity to accommodate MRI in the future.)
  • 17 Pre Surgery bays
  • 20 Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) bays
  • 15 “swing” bays can be used in the mornings for pre-surgical patients and later in the day to care for post-surgical patients.
  • 2 pediatric rooms in the Presurgical Center (PSC)
  • 3 isolation rooms for infection control in the PACU/PSC
  • 4 family consultation rooms in patient care area for private post surgical discussions
  • Approximate cost of the facility: $70 million