New ‘X factor’ robot solution for back pain

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Lindy Telford suffered chronic back pain for a decade, but an Australian-first robotic procedure has given her freedom of movement again.

She was diagnosed with scoliosis – a sideways curvature of the spine – at the age of 25.

“Since then, it has grown worse and in recent years I’ve found I need to do a lot of physiotherapy and massage and exercise just to keep it in check,” said Ms Telford, a 35-year-old solicitor from Proserpine in North Queensland.

Gold Coast’s Pindara Private Hospital provided the solution after investing in a cutting-edge, million-dollar system. 

Using the Mazor X Stealth Edition Robot, surgeons Associate Professor Matthew Scott-Young and Assistant Professor Laurence McEntee put more than 20 metal implants into her spine.

“I was pretty nervous leading up to the surgery but I had a 55-degree curve in my spine that was likely to get worse by about one degree every year,” Ms Telford said.

Surgeons usually rely on ‘freehand’ techniques and x-rays to place screws and rods in complex spine surgery, but A/Prof Scott-Young said the robotic equipment helped to pinpoint the exact placement and trajectory of the implants.

“The Mazor X system tracks the position of instruments in relation to the patient’s anatomy to improve accuracy, which is vital in operations like Lindy’s where the spinal cord and vital organs might be only two or three millimetres away,” he said.

“It means less time under anaesthetic, fewer x-rays, smaller incisions and faster recovery.”

After a difficult first week of recovery, Ms Telford quickly progressed to resuming yoga and daily exercise.

North Shore Private Hospital specialist spine surgeon Dr Jonathon Ball.

Following the success of her operation, another hospital in the Ramsay Health Care Group has also invested in the equipment.

Specialist spine surgeon Dr Jonathon Ball performed the first procedure in New South Wales at Sydney’s North Shore Private Hospital.

“This technology delivers unprecedented safety, reliability and accuracy for surgeons. I am now using it in almost every spinal fusion operation I perform,” Dr Ball said.

As chronic back pain affects nearly four million Australians, Ramsay hopes the two hospitals will attract patients from across the country seeking treatment via the new technology.

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