When the Vascular Surgery Clinic opened in Zurich in Spring 2019, all eyes were on the Swiss city in the medical world: The University Hospital of Zurich (USZ) and the University of Zurich worked together here to set up a new clinic to set the bar in terms of practical application and research. The name of its Director also represents the high expectations for the new organisation: In Professor Dr. med. Alexander Zimmermann, the Clinic has succeeded in appointing an experienced vascular surgeon as its Chief Director. The Clinic thus specialises, in particular, in aorta treatment and minimally invasive endovascular surgery.
This medical specialisation from which primarily the patients benefit goes further than this. In Zurich, where interdisciplinary cooperation between clinics is already established, this high level of specialisation is taken very seriously: The Vascular Surgery Clinic, which opened in 2019, is primarily a close partner of the Angiology Clinic at the University Hospital of Zurich and makes the perfect addition. This is because, particularly when it comes to sharing infrastructure such as wards or operating platforms, synergies are required nowadays.
The establishment of the Clinic, directed by Professor Dr. med. Alexander Zimmermann, was based, in addition to the increasing specialisation and associated international development, on other factors, too: It was also associated with the goal of obtaining the further training recognition as an A-Clinic for the consultant further training title of "Vascular surgery", created by the Swiss Medical Association (FMH) in 2015.
USZ: now offering three specialist clinics
Now offering three clinics, the USZ therefore covers the entire range of surgical and endovascular vascular medicine. In addition to the new vascular surgery and angiology services, it also features the Clinic for Interventional Radiology. This underlines the fact that multiple synergy effects will be created.
Professor Dr. med. Alexander Zimmermann personally believes in this positive effect, of course. The consultant, who studied in Germany at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (LMU), in the USA at the University of North Carolina and again in Munich at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), stands for comprehensive expertise and an international approach. He also completed further training at the Klinikum rechts der Isar (Surgical Clinic and Outpatient Department) and the Clinic for Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery, amongst others. In addition, he obtained experience in the Intensive Care and Severe Burns Centre at Murnau Trauma Hospital.
Experienced consultant with numerous additional qualifications
He has also obtained additional qualifications as a consultant in vascular surgery, namely, Fellow of the European Board of Vascular Surgery (FEBVS), phlebology, endovascular surgeon and specialist (DGG) and medical quality management. He obtained the Master of Health Business Administration from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and multiple periods of time spent shadowing experts took him to countries such as France and Sweden, as well as back to the USA.
Aorta treatment and a first for Switzerland
Before he took on the role of Director at the Clinic in Zurich, Professor Dr. med. Alexander Zimmermann was Chief Physician and Deputy Clinic Director at the Klinikum rechts der Isar at TUM. He has also been responsible for the directorship of the "Münchner Aorten Centrum", which is rich in tradition, since 2017. This outstanding experience has enabled him from the very beginning to take aorta treatment in Zurich to a level which is unparalleled in Switzerland. In addition to the first emergency use in Switzerland of a specially adapted aorta prosthesis in the operating room, he was also one of the first surgeons in the world to carry out a special aorta operation on a 9-year-old boy.
Full range of treatment for vascular conditions
However, in the surgical treatment of stenosis in the carotid artery, transcarotid stenting for the carotid is now offered here too – one of only two centres in Switzerland to offer the procedure. The stent is not inserted into the narrowed area via the aortic arch but, rather, via a small incision above the collarbone which is, of course, much less invasive for patients.
Aorta treatment relates to other fields too, of course, such as the treatment of peripheral arterial occlusion. For Professor Zimmermann, the focus is always on surgery which aims to retain the extremities. His experience in plastic surgery is hugely beneficial here in terms of interdisciplinary exchange.
The Clinic's specialisation is perfect for the experienced vascular surgeon because Professor Zimmermann is able to focus on treating all conditions of the arterial and venous vascular system. The use of AV shunts for dialysis patients is also part of the range of treatments offered by the newly established special clinic, whereby both open surgical methods and endovascular or conservative treatment methods are used.
By appointing Professor Zimmermann as Clinic Director, those responsible took another major step in the right direction: This is because, in addition to his excellent expertise in his field and wealth of experience, Professor Dr. med. Alexander Zimmermann offers a high level of empathy, both to patients and the dedicated and expert team, which was put together specially to meet the Clinic's requirements.
Important to the entire team: high level of empathy
For the Director and his team, it is clear that interpersonal relations play an important role in achieving the best possible treatment results. However, empathy and a friendly demeanour are only the foundation upon which state-of-the-art and minimally invasive treatment options are offered. At the new Clinic in Zurich, this takes place at the highest level: The University structure makes it possible to use the most innovative treatment methods and therapies. This also applies to the comprehensive operation preparation methods which are used to minimise the operation risk.
What those responsible at the University Hospital of Zurich and the University of Zurich hoped for and imagined has become reality in a short space of time: Soon after the Clinic opened, people used the services offered by the new special clinic and even came from a long way away from Zurich to do so. From the very beginning, the Clinic treated patients both from all the cantons in Switzerland, as well as from abroad. The outpatient consultation sessions, which are available for further investigations or consultations, are very popular.
The reputation of the newly-established Vascular Surgery Clinic under the directorship of Professor Zimmermann has already become well-established with regard to the treatment of highly complex cases which can often be much too difficult for lots of standard hospitals to manage. In particular, the treatment of complex cases involving patients suffering from multiple conditions requires innovative procedures, specific expertise and suitable treatment concepts. The new structure fits in with this trend.
Despite all this specialisation, interdisciplinary exchange is highly valued in Zurich. This is demonstrated, for example, by involvement in boards and platforms. This enables the Director and his team to keep up-to-date with the latest research at all times and to represent the importance of their own specialism to others. Areas such as the heart, circulation and vascular system are of huge importance in modern medicine.