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An Alternate Method To Perform Spinal Surgeries

In a major breakthrough, doctors at AIIMS have devised a new technique for spine surgery in patients suffering from congenital anomaly of the vertebral column. The condition affects young individuals in the age group of 20-30 years, and is precipitated by lifestyle issues such as prolonged sitting and lack of exercise.

Traditionally, such patients require undergoing consecutive surgeries: to drill out the piece of bone compressing the spine through the mount and to stabilize the head and neck using rod and screws from the back of the neck. The new technique not only removes compression on the spinal cord but also reduces deformity through a single surgery performed from the back of the neck, said Dr P Sarat Chandra, professor of neurosurgery at AIIMS.

"The traditional technique does not correct the deformity. It just removes compression from the front and fixes it from back using screws. The new technique uses two small cages to reduce the deformity and certain intra-operative corrective manoeuvres are used to fix it," said Dr Chandra. Over 100 have undergone surgery using the new method at AIIMS in the last three years.

Dr B S Sharma, head of the neurosurgery department, added, "The new technique does not require any special instrument; it is cost-effective. The duration of surgery is reduced by half-from 10 to five hours-plus there is reduced blood loss." The condition is medically known as atlanto-axial dislocation and basilar invagination. It results in the uppermost portion of the neck slipping from its articulation with the base of the head causing compression of the spinal cord. If left untreated, the patient develops weakness in all limbs, becomes incontinent and finally succumbs to the disorder.

.The early signs of the disease may include weakness in all four limbs or stiffness," said Dr Sharma. He, however, added that few hospitals across the country have the expertise available to perform the complex procedure.
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