Doctors at Global Hospitals in Mumbai, India, have achieved a rare feat in spinal surgery. For the first time, an expert team of surgeons performed minimal access spine surgery on an 82-year-old ankylosing spondylitis patient by implanting 14 screws in the patient’s spinal cord.
Ankylosing spondylitis, or A.S., is a form of arthritis associated with long-term inflammation of the joints in the spine. Symptoms include pain and stiffness from the neck down to the lower back. Vertebrae may fuse together, resulting in spinal rigidity. Sometimes, it can cause the patient to have a stooped-over posture.
The patient in India suffered a fall in November 2014 and then had a constant complaint about severe back pain. His legs became paralyzed and by February 2015, he was completely bed-ridden.
Upon examination, doctors found he had developed 3 Andersson lesions (AL), a known complication in patients with AS and can result from inflammation or trauma of the spine.
After meticulously weighing all the options, it was decided that there was no option but to perform surgery on the patient. The surgery was all the more challenging as the patient had other complications as well, all of which precluded him from traditional spinal surgery (open surgery). This would have resulted in the patient having excessive blood loss, and his chance of survival would have been very low.
The team decided to conduct a minimally invasive surgery which would not involve a long incision, thereby avoiding significant damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. Patients undergoing this type of surgery reported less post-surgical pain and a faster recovery.
The 82-year-old patient was able to walk again after recovering from surgery, and his doctors were delighted to learn that he was in much less pain as compared to before the minimally invasive surgery.