New technology for spine surgeries

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Back pain is something many people deal with at some point in their lives. Severe cases often require surgery to fix the problem. Now, with the help of innovative technology, procedures on the spine are faster, less invasive and overall better for the patient.

Nancy Bielefeld loves to stay active.

“I love to go for walks. I love to go for hikes. I love to play tennis. I just picked up pickleball,” Bielefeld said.

But severe pain in her lower back kept her off the court.

After X-rays and an MRI, Bielefeld learned she had a deformity in her spine and severely pinched nerves. Surgery was her best option.

“You have to not only un-pinch the nerves, but you have to rebuild that part of the spine as well,” Bielefeld said.

Dr. Stephen Ritter is an orthopedic spine surgeon. He uses the Stryker’s Q guidance system to visualize the surgery. It produces real-time, 3-D models of a patient’s spine, allowing surgeons to operate through a small incision.

“Traditionally, with a big open surgery, you have to open the incision wide to be able to see the anatomy to repair what you need to repair. With these different technologies, you’re allowed to repair a lot of the structural problems without ever having to see the anatomy directly. You’re visualizing it on a screen,” Ritter said.

Ritter said that for his patients, a smaller incision means a lower risk of infection, less pain after surgery and a shorter overall recovery time. Bielefeld’s surgery was a success. She’s now pain-free and, once again, able to enjoy the things she loves.

“I got my activity back, my really active lifestyle,” Bielefeld said.

Ritter said this navigation technology, as a whole, can be used for many things, but he said this specific guidance system he uses is uniquely designed to help with spine surgeries because of its precise ability to target a certain area or bone during surgery.

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