Imagine being able to get up and walk immediately after spinal surgery.
For the first time on the Gold Coast, that is now an option thanks to the introduction of a new keyhole technique which cuts recovery time in half.
Gold Coast Private Hospital has invested in specialised equipment that has made its neurosurgeon Dr Lee Yang the only specialist in the city who can offer the procedure as an alternative to traditional open discectomy.
The keyhole operation is mainly used to treat sciatica pain caused by a prolapsed disc – a common condition which is often triggered by heavy lifting or twisting.
Dr Yang said the two-hour procedure is successful in more than 95 percent of cases.
"Patients I have treated at Gold Coast Private have been up and walking immediately after the surgery, and were able to head home from hospital after two days. Following open spine surgery, a patient faces up to five days in hospital, and usually requires painkillers.
"The benefits of the keyhole method include very minimal damage to surrounding muscle and bone, much less pain post-surgery, and a quicker recovery," Dr Yang said.
With keyhole discectomy, the surgeon makes a small incision in the skin, and inserts a tiny 1.8 cm dilator onto the spinal bone. A microscope illuminates and magnifies the affected area by a factor of 49, allowing the surgeon to decompress the surrounding nerves and trim the bulging disc.
Dr Yang said surgery should only be considered as a last resort, if options such as physiotherapy, medication and injections prove ineffective.
"Patients in all age groups are prime candidates, particularly those in their seventies and eighties who are susceptible to injury with an ageing spine,” he said.