People agree to spinal surgery reluctantly. Although back problems are widespread, and the number of people who are in need of spinal surgery is increasing, in most patients the fear of spinal cord injury during surgery outweighs.
Privatdocent Dr. Ian Siewe, head of the spinal surgery department at the Leverkusen Clinic, is aware of his patients’ fears. As a specialist in his field, he has performed a large number of operations on the very sensitive part of the musculoskeletal system, which gives us the ability of walking upright. His specialization covers the treatment of many diseases, ranging from the treatment of classical disc herniation to fractures, as well as scoliosis in children and the treatment of tumours and prosthetics.
For about five weeks during operations he can count on a high accuracy navigation system. “So, using the navigation on the screen, we have the possibility of tracking where exactly the instrument is in the patient’s body or where it is necessary to install a screw,” explains this surgical method Siewe. First, when the patient is on the operating table the specialists perform 3D X-rays.
The rotating X-ray device makes it possible to take 360 shots in 40 seconds, which together give a very accurate image of the area where the surgery is to be performed. They are the basis for further navigation with a tiny camera. This camera sends a picture to the monitor which makes it possible to see a clear, enlarged image of the spine. So the surgeon achieves even greater safety, especially during operations in which it depends on the accuracy in the segment of a millimetre size.
Besides, diseases such as scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine) must be treated at a young age, and they can be treated. “Many parents and teenagers are afraid to straighten the curved spine,” explains Jan Siewe. “Even if nothing hurts in adolescence, beginning with the age of 30, scoliosis starts to hurt more and more.” It is hoped that due to the even more accurate surgical method provide by the computer navigation, parents and children will more easily decide on straightening the spine.
“I would allow my daughter to be operated on,” Siewe says with conviction. What concerns the clinic, the investment of almost three-quarters of a million Euros to equip the operating room means the next step in specialization in one field.
“With the new-generation high-tech navigation equipment, we are leaders in our region,” explains Prof. Dr. Leonard Bastian, Director of the Clinic of Orthopedics, Traumatology, Hand Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery.
The Solingen Clinic with which the Leverkusen Clinic is currently negotiating cooperation, does not own such equipment. According to Leonard Bastian, the device at the University Hospital of Cologne is even older. Nevertheless, doctors are unanimous that this technique will be used in most operating rooms in the coming years. Then the surgical robot will determine the future of vertebrology.