All planned surgeries at Royal University Hospital have been postponed because of an electrical problem. (CBC)

A problem with Saskatoon's aging Royal University Hospital's electrical system means the health region has postponed all scheduled surgeries for today.

A panel box responsible for distributing electricity through the university failed Tuesday at around 1 am CST.

The hospital was left without hot water, and operating room fans were not working.

Two operating rooms were still available for emergency surgeries, but all other surgeries were cancelled.

The problem happened as electrical engineers were working on replacing the hospital's electrical systems. 

"Well, certainly aging infrastructure is an issue for us," said Health Region Vice-President Nilesh Kavia. "Electrical is one of those higher priority issues within the infrastructure priorities that we have."

Earlier today the health region said everything should be up and running by Wednesday.

However, that estimate was later revised.

In a statement issued at 6 p.m. CST, the health region said it's still uncertain how soon some systems will be restored, including pumps that bring water to the hospital's upper levels, and pumps that support steam for the building.

That means the hospital is not able to properly sterilize surgical equipment.

The regions says 17 surgeries were postponed today. It's expected that an additional 20 patients will have their surgeries postponed and rescheduled tomorrow.

Contingency plans are in place to do unplanned emergency surgeries at RUH, and to sterilize equipment off-site as needed. Trauma patients will continue to be cared for at RUH, and scheduled interventional procedures in areas such as diagnostic imaging will also continue.

It's not known how long it will take to reschedule the surgeries.

An update from the health region is expected Wednesday morning.