Virtual spinal technique ends 50 years of pain


Kaye Burrows had suffered chronic pain for half a century due to a severe spinal deformity – until recently she couldn't even walk unassisted for short trips to do her shopping.

Now, following an innovative procedure at Perth's Mount Hospital, the 72-year-old can walk several kilometres a day, without help, and can stand upright for the first time in decades.

“I didn’t think it was possible for me to live like this,” Mrs Burrows said. “I had almost given up hope as I had tried so many painkillers and treatments, and I had consulted with dozens of doctors who either suggested continuing with pain management or undertaking highly-invasive procedures.”

That changed when she met Mount Hospital spine specialist Dr Paul Taylor, one of the first surgeons in Australia to perform a complex new procedure using virtual reality technology that allows patient-specific programming.

Mrs Burrows had a 45-degree stoop caused by severe kyphoscoliotic deformity – her spine was so curved that her rib cage and pelvis were touching.

Dr Taylor corrected this by performing an anterior lumbar fusion, combining minimally-invasive surgical techniques at multiple levels along with spinal screws placed individually through small 'stab' incisions.

Mount Hospital spinal surgeon Dr Paul Taylor

“I have a new perspective on life in many ways,” Mrs Burrows said. “The results have exceeded my expectations, and I'm on my way to a full recovery.”

Dr Taylor said this type of surgery reduces the amount of tissue damage that comes with the traditional technique, which removes all muscle from the bone, from the mid-chest down, to create access for the insertion of screws and rods. It is particularly suitable for senior patients who need minimally-invasive treatment.

“Firstly, I placed a series of spacers in her side to make room between her rib and pelvis, and then made a series of small surgical cuts – instead of one large dissection - to insert the screws and rods.

“The procedure was completed using NuVasive’s new 'Bendini' system which allowed me, using virtual reality technology, to place the rod connecting the screws with a bend to match the curve of the spine, with absolute precision,” he said.


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