Orthopaedic trauma patients in the Far North are the first in Queensland to undergo surgery via state-of-the-art computer guided technology.
The Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation bought the $398,000 technology for the Cairns Hospital to enable faster surgeries, quicker recovery times and less radiation exposure to staff and patients.
Cairns Hospital orthopaedic senior visiting officer Dr Chris Morrey said that in some cases, up to 50 xrays are required during surgery, to ensure more precise placement of pins, screws and plates.
With the new technology, a patient undergoes a CT scan before their procedure, two xrays at the start of their surgery which are uploaded onto the computer system and used by the surgeon to guide correct placement.
“Ultimately this leads to an improvement in the overall management of complex trauma cases – incisions are smaller, the patient is anaesthetised for a lesser time, they have less post-operative pain and they and the theatre staff are exposed to less radiation,” Dr Morrey said.
Use of the system also frees up the xray equipment and staff to undertake other work.
“I would envision we could use it at least daily – we normally fix up to two spinal and/or pelvis fractures a week,” he said. “Once all the data is loaded onto the system, the surgeon uses their finger on the screen, a bit like using a smartphone, to guide where they want the pins, screws and plates to go.”
Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman said senior orthopaedic surgeons in Cairns had been hoping to introduce the navigation technology for some time and the Foundation was delighted to be able to step up and make it a reality with this donation.
“The Brainlab surgical navigation system means serious trauma patients will now have access to the most advanced treatment possible,” he said. “It makes the surgery faster, safer and more accurate and this makes a big difference to seriously injured patients and to the staff who look after them.”
The donation has been supported by the fund raising efforts of the many volunteers and supporters of the Foundation including Freemasons and the Wayne Leonard Motorcycle Muster and by the earnings of the Foundation’s Sea Breaze Café and dcafé at Cairns Hospital.
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