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Neurosurgical team hits 100 case milestone in robotic spinal surgery

Top neurosurgeons at The Walton Centre have achieved the incredible milestone of 100 complex spinal operations using innovative robotic surgery. The surgical team passed the 100-mark this week, completing a spinal fusion, one of the procedures to use the technology at the specialist Trust.

The groundbreaking surgical robotic navigation system is one of the first of its kind to be used in the NHS, which the team began to use in October 2022. It allows surgeons to facilitate placement of spinal screws and interbody cages to an incredibly high level of precision. This enables patients to spend less time in theatre plus experience shorter recovery times.

The robot involves a rigid robotic arm, tracked and fully navigated by a camera, which is then programmed to follow a trajectory pre-planned by surgeons.

The system lends itself to minimally invasive procedures and can drastically improve accuracy in screw placement. This in turn can significantly reduce operating time, time spent in hospital and recovery times for spinal patients.

Chief Executive Officer Jan Ross said:

“It cannot be understated how incredible an achievement this is, not only for patients, but for our staff too. In less than 18 months they have marked out the Trust as a leader in the UK in robotic spinal surgery, carrying out lifechanging procedures for our patients.

“I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made, and can’t wait to see the team innovate and enhance the service further for the benefit of patients across the North West, North Wales and the Isle of Man.”

Consultant Spinal Surgeon and Clinical Lead for Complex Spine Mr Martin Wilby said:

“We’ve made great strides in spinal robotic surgery here at The Walton Centre. The whole surgical team has got behind this groundbreaking technology because they can see the benefits for patients. We’ve now seen firsthand how this innovative approach can improve the outcomes for complex spinal patients. I’m incredibly proud of how we’ve reached this milestone, now on to the next 100.”

John Bowden, 77, from Prestatyn North Wales, had surgery on his spine last year using the robotic tech. He said:

“My sciatica has been painful on and off for the last couple of years. The pain got to the point where I was struggling to walk, so I had to get it sorted. Coming to have surgery at The Walton Centre was a quick referral. I felt the back pain stop immediately after I woke up from the operation. The surgical team were incredible, and the nursing team were second to none. Since the surgery I’ve been able to do a lot more than before. I’m able to stay on my feet for longer, which helps when I’m with the grandkids! It feels like I’ve got those years back, it’s changed by life.”