Lanka Hospitals performs first minimally invasive lumbar fusion

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By 2018-02-14

Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC recently announced via press release that it successfully performed a specialized spine surgery, called a minimally invasive lumbar fusion, with Navigation Assistant. Lanka Hospitals has incorporated innovative technology and techniques to transform a tedious and risky surgical procedure into a cost-effective surgery, considerably reducing the surgical and recovery time with minimum need for post-operative medication.

According to Chief Neurosurgeon Dr Prasanna Gunasena, minimally invasive lumbar fusion is a procedure required to treat patients suffering from unstable spines. The condition may occur at birth in some patients or due to ageing factors for others, where it makes the surrounding tissue of the vertebral column grow thicker. This constricts the nerves within the vertebral column, leaving the patient with pain down the legs and numbness, in addition to causing bladder and bowel problems.
The condition can cause the spine to collapse with time, requiring insertion of screws to stabilize it. This procedure is not only time-consuming, but also requires 5-6 days of hospitalization. The patient may undergo post-operative pain and discomfort and will be required to depend on lot of medication. To avoid the tedious surgical procedure, recognized spine specialists opt for the minimally invasive procedure. Minimally invasive surgeries are also used for the decompression of the nerves in conditions such as sciatica and neurogenic claudication, Dr Gunasena added.

The minimally invasive procedure has simplified the decompression of nerves to a great extent; however, lumbar fusion still remains a challenging procedure. Staying abreast of modern technological advances, Lanka Hospitals has adopted the latest navigation technology to conduct the procedure with precision. Navigation Assistant is a method incorporated in surgeries where the system overlaps high-quality camera imaging with x-ray imagery of a patient, allowing the surgeon to view where and how exactly the screws are placed. This method minimizes the complexity of the procedure and eliminates the possibilities of complications arising from misplacement or misalignment of screws.

Dr Gunasena stressed the fact that the availability of an advanced medical procedure in the country will benefit patients forced to seek costly medical procedures overseas. Furthermore, Lanka Hospitals also incorporates a continuous nerve monitoring system which supports surgeries. Lanka Hospitals' neurosurgery department has also installed specially-designed instruments compatible with their navigation system. This further reduces the length of the incision from 4 inches to 2 inches. Due to fast recovery, the patients need not remain in the hospital for more than two days.

Judging by the first successful minimally invasive lumbar fusion procedure with Navigation Assistant, Dr Prasanna Gunasena said his team can complete the surgery in 1.5-2 hours. With time, they intend to shorten the time span while increasing efficiency and precision.

Gunasena noted, "The minimally invasive procedure is ideal for busy lives, as a patient who undergoes the procedure can return home within 24 hours. The recovery period is much faster, and no post-operative medication or physiotherapy is required. Instead of taking months to recover, the new procedure allows a patient to return to work in a matter of 10-15 days."

"The minimally invasive procedure with Navigation Assistant is not available in many places in India or Singapore. Only a handful of specialized medical centres in Europe, US and Australia are adopting the procedure. We're very happy that we could perform this surgery in Sri Lanka, which will lead to an amazing breakthrough in neurosurgery in Sri Lanka as well as the South Asian region," Dr Gunasena stated.

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