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New equipment a surgery game-changer for Townsville University Hospital patients

Published:  27 August 2021

Ingham local Kyra Siely has become one of the first patients at Townsville University Hospital (TUH) to undergo spinal surgery with the assistance of the new $1 million Med-tronic O-arm.

The O-arm, which was acquired by the hospital in July, is the first of its kind outside south-east Queensland and takes real-time x-rays and 3D images of patients during surgery.

TUH neurosurgeon Dr Eric Guazzo said the O-arm allowed him to align instruments to the precise area in Ms Siely’s spine where screws or implants needed to be placed.

“Kyra required a T11 – 12 decompression and a T10 – L1 fusion after a car accident when she was 18 left her with fractured vertebrae and slipped and bulging discs,” he said.

“Over time, this began causing a lot of pain and other issues for Kyra, so it was imperative that she underwent the surgery which involved placing screws in her spine to stabilise it and removing part of her vertebrae to create more room.”

Eric said the O-arm gave him and his neurosurgery colleagues the capability to know screws and implants had been correctly placed while Ms Siely was still on the operating table.

“The O-arm forms a ring around the patient’s body during surgery and can be opened and closed without moving the patient,” he said.

“We can then see images of the area of the spine being worked on then and there as opposed to waiting for follow-up x-rays post-surgery.

“Prior to having the O-arm we were guided by MRIs or x-rays taken before surgery, or for more complex surgeries we would send patients to Brisbane.

“The O-arm integrates with the already advanced spinal navigation system we use at Townsville which allows pin-point precision in spinal surgery.

“Having this technology at a regional hospital is a massive coup for TUH.”

Kyra said she was grateful to have had the surgery with the assistance of the O-arm.

“It gave me comfort knowing that my surgeons would be able to make sure everything was in the right position while I was mid-surgery,” she said.

“Being so close to the spinal cord meant there were a lot of risk factors so to have the option for the O-arm to be used gave me a lot of security.

“Being able to have this and still be so close to home when we live regionally was really important, too.”

Kyra said going to Brisbane for the surgery would have been difficult.

“I have four children and my husband works a lot and with my parents helping care for my children I wouldn’t have had any family support,” she said.

“If the surgery had been completed without the O-arm there also would have been the possibility of needing another surgery which would have put further strain on myself and my family.”

Eric said the O-arm had been used in three surgeries to date and was a key piece of equipment for the hospital.

“It will be used frequently by my colleagues Dr David Anderson and Dr Sarin Kuruvath on patients requiring neurosurgery and spinal surgery but also by other surgical areas of the hospital,” he said.

“People undergoing orthopaedic surgery will benefit from this technology as will those getting maxillofacial procedures.

“I’m pleased to see that Kyra is recovering well from her surgery and, thanks to the O-arm, was able to stay close to her family when she needed them most.

“I’m very grateful for the strong support from the Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board and executive for allowing us to obtain this technology and continue to deliver excellent health care to the people and communities of north Queensland.”

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