New Brunswick

New spinal surgery technique at Saint John hospital improves patient recovery time

A surgery that will shorten recovery times and improve the outcome for patients has been performed for the first time at the Saint John Regional Hospital. 

Patient was able to go home sooner and recover faster

The first  endoscopic spinal surgery in Canada was recently performed at the Saint John Regional Hospital. (Shutterstock)

A surgery that will shorten recovery times and improve the outcome for back patients has been performed for the first time at the Saint John Regional Hospital. 

Dr. Naj Attabib, a spine neurosurgeon in Saint John, said he recently performed the first endoscopic spinal surgery in Canada.

The technique allowed the patient, Melissa Ogden, to leave the hospital with only a half centimetre scar. And the agonizing leg pain her back problem had caused was gone. 

"It just feels great not to live with pain everyday," she said.

Attabib said the new surgery is a departure from the invasive back surgeries that have been performed for years. 

Faster recovery

"A small incision, very minimal wound, more mobility and also faster recovery," he said. "The other thing is with time, the surgery will be shorter and shorter, and it can be done as an awake surgery, and that's less resources involved."

The surgeon said Ogden was an ideal patient for the new surgery because of the disc herniation she had. 

"There are different approaches, and I think for her disc herniation it was ideal for endoscopic interlaminar discectomy." 

A neurosurgeon at the Saint John Regional Hospital trained to perform endoscopic spinal surgery had to wait for Health Canada to approve the surgical technique before he could do the procedure. (CBC)

Attabib said endoscopic spinal surgery is not used widely in North America. He said neurosurgeons adopted the minimal invasive spine surgery method instead.

But after two training sessions, one in Spain and another in France, and with approval from Health Canada, Attabib said he began getting cases ready for endoscopic spinal surgery.

"We just finished the first set of cases just recently." 

Equipment to perform the surgery was brought in from Germany on loan to allow the first surgeries to be performed, he said.

Can change lives for many

When asked about Ogden's response to the success of her surgery, Attabib said she was happy. 

"She was impressed with how fast her recovery was." 

With disc herniation being a very common debilitating disease, Attabib said the surgery is life-changing for the patients. 

"The patients go home the same day, they have a faster recovery, they get back to work faster. The minimal we do, the faster the recovery and definitely a big change in their quality of life." 



With files from Information Morning Saint John


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