The Next Level of Spine Surgery

A doctor overlooks a patient lying down in the O-arm, a 2D/3D imaging system.

Lower radiation doses for many patients and surgical teams. More accurate placement of screws. Smaller incisions and faster procedures requiring less anesthetic.

Advancements in technology used during spinal surgery are providing numerous benefits for patients and surgical teams. Orthopedic surgeons at Hamilton Health Sciences, specifically those at Hamilton General Hospital and McMaster Children’s Hospital, now have the critical equipment to take advantage of those advancements.

Headshot of Dr. Devin Peterson

Dr. Devin Peterson

The O-arm

Whether surgery is required as a result of trauma, bone or disc compression, cancer or a spinal deformity such as scoliosis (spinal curvature) or kyphosis (exaggerated rounding of the back), the new O-arm and accompanying navigation system are helping surgical teams and patients of all ages.

Previously, spine surgery required a lot of imaging in the form of either an X-ray or CT scan. This imaging took place before, during and after surgery. The radiation exposure of traditional surgery was high for both patients and surgical teams, especially when some procedures require an image for every screw and some procedures require as many as 30 screws. With the O-arm, each image covers a number of screws, so repetitive imaging is not required.

“The O-arm helps ensure placement accuracy. This helps reduce the risk of infection and speeds healing.”

Precision placement of screws is imperative. Being off by a fraction of a millimetre can result in severe damage to the spinal cord or nerve roots. The 3D visualization offered by the O-arm’s navigation system can reduce that risk as surgeons have a significantly higher level of detail of the entire surgical field. This translates into greater precision and better outcomes for patients.

“While Hamilton Health Sciences had a strong spine program before, this technology takes us to the next level of sophistication,” says pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Devin Peterson.

Headshot of Dr. Brian Drew

Dr. Brian Drew

New enhancements

For major spinal deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis, where surgery is typically performed on children, Dr. Peterson is excited about the enhanced safety profile of the surgery. This new equipment enables improvements to the patient’s quality of life, while also lowering the dose of radiation.

For orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Drew, removing a cancerous tumour or treating a trauma patient often involves removing vertebrae. A patient may also need a vertebra removed to relieve pressure from the nerves or spinal cord.

“Once the vertebra is removed, the spine needs to be stabilized using screws and rods,” explains Dr. Drew. “The O-arm helps ensure placement accuracy. This helps reduce the risk of infection and speeds healing.”

This new technology is helping the team at Hamilton Health Sciences provide the best possible care to adult and pediatric patients from across the region.