X-ray vision for surgeon speeds recovery from spine surgery

X-ray vision for surgeon speeds recovery from spine surgery

One in four older Americans is likely to have experienced the agonizing pain of sciatica that can prevent them from working or doing the things they love. Caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back from a herniated disk or bone spur, sciatic pain starts in the spine and radiates down the leg, typically impacting only one side of the body. While some sciatic nerve pain can be relieved with holistic treatments, for others, surgery is the best option.

“My clinic is full of patients who are crippled by sciatic pain,” explained Dr. Richard Broderick, a neurosurgeon at Advocate Sherman Hospital. “We know any surgery presents risks to our patients. But, thanks to advances in technology we’re able to shorten the time a patient is under anesthesia, reduce the risk of infection, and perform minimally invasive techniques that get our patients out of the hospital and back to work faster.”

Recently, Dr. Broderick became the first surgeon in the 26-hospital Advocate Aurora Health system to use a new minimally invasive augmented reality (AR) surgical navigation system that offers the surgeon a 3-D view of a patient’s unique spinal anatomy during the procedure. It’s the closest thing to “x-ray vision” for surgeons that helps the surgeon place screws and other hardware accurately and efficiently in a patient’s unique anatomy. Similar to real-time GPS, the custom-built headset projects a patient’s CT data onto the surgeon’s retina, allowing the provider to remain focused on the patient while simultaneously seeing the navigation data without looking away at a remote screen.

The system is most often used to alleviate pinched nerves, bone spurs, ruptured discs, fractured spines, or repair damage from tumors that have spread to the spine.

“Being able to offer a minimally invasive option where most of my patients can recover in six weeks and return to work or get back on the golf course, it’s just remarkable,” continued Broderick who has been practicing for more than 20 years. “It’s like being able to see through the skin to the bone, and patients wake up with far less pain from the surgery because the incisions are so small. Before, patients spent between five and eight days in the hospital after surgery. Now, they’re only in the hospital overnight, and the relief is immediate.”

The xvision Spine System consists of a transparent near-eye-display headset and all elements of a traditional navigation system. It accurately determines the position of surgical tools, in real-time, and superimposes them on the patient’s CT data. Designed to revolutionize how surgery is done, the surgeon has better control and visualization, which may lead to easier, faster and safer surgeries.

“Our community deserves access to leading edge technologies close to home,” said Sheri De Shazo, president of Advocate Sherman Hospital. “That’s why we’re making investments in equipment like this that will help our patients recover faster and get back to living well. We’re one of very few places in the country that patients can benefit from this technology, and we’re proud to bring best-in-class care to Elgin and Kane County.”

Using the new navigation system, Broderick can offer corrective surgical options to more of his patients with severe sciatica or other degenerative spine conditions, including some who wouldn’t have qualified before because of their age or other health issues. “This technology expands our ability to operate safely,” he explained. “Because the procedure is shorter and the incisions are smaller, more of my patients are candidates.”

Advocate Sherman Hospital is one of only 4 locations in Illinois and 40 locations in the United States with this kind of surgical navigation. “It’s huge for patients to get this kind of surgery close to home,” concluded Broderick. ““I’m confident this advanced technology will decrease my patient’s time for them to achieve a complete recovery and get them back to living the life that they’re wanting to live faster than ever before”

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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About the Author

Kristen Johnson
Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She previously worked as a speechwriter and staffer on Capitol Hill. She enjoys running marathons, good coffee and exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods.