Pandemic leads to innovative approach to spinal fusion operations


As hospitals halted elective surgeries during the pandemic, many people have been left in a lot of pain.

That has created an opportunity to figure out how to perform complex surgeries in an outpatient setting.

Bill Banker looms over the court, whether it’s handball or basketball, golf or running, the former college athlete is always on the move.

But repeated sports injuries that crippled his spine have threatened to put him aside.

“I had to have another mastectomy to relieve the pain. And the surgeons who performed those surgeries said that, eventually, I would need a more serious surgery to fix it permanently,” said Banker.

In the midst of a pandemic, Banker realized that it was time to merge with the spinal cord.

“I can’t take 15 steps without barely bending over,” he said.

As hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients, more elective surgeries have been tabulated.

Banker’s surgeon Jeffrey Henn decided to take a different approach. Skilled in minimally invasive spinal procedures, he thinks Banker is a good candidate to undergo spinal fusion as an outpatient.

“Once we have perfected the smaller surgeries, the question becomes, can we safely and reasonably treat someone with a major surgery like a lumbar fusion? And I think the simple answer is we absolutely can,” said Dr. Jeffrey Henn, a neurosurgeon at the Joint Implant Surgeons of Florida in Fort Myers.

In Banker’s case, a flattened disc compressed the nerve.

Fixing it required going into his back and adding spacers and screws to straighten and support the spine.

A major surgery, Henn felt he could get the same outcome using small incisions.

“With the right anesthesia, with the right minimally invasive techniques, you’re essentially doing major surgery and having someone comfortable enough that they can go home,” says Henn. ‘ said Hen.

Using a less invasive approach and non-opioid-related pain relief, Banker had surgery. He went home a few hours after surgery, and three months after major back surgery, he had fully regained his vitality.

“I think the pandemic really hastened outpatient surgery for major spine surgery. I think I’m at the peak of being a pioneer,” said Banker.

Traditional spinal fusion usually means a few days in the hospital to recover.

Going home the same day is really a deciding factor for some people who may have to endure pain and postpone surgery.

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/17/pandemic-leads-to-innovative-approach-to-spinal-fusion-operations/ Pandemic leads to innovative approach to spinal fusion operations

Tom Vazquez

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