Robotic arms fix deformed spine, help 10-year-old stand

NEW DELHI: A 10-year-old boy from Bihar, who suffered from a collapsed vertebra at the mid-chest level leading to compression of the spinal cord with a large collection of pus in the area, recently underwent robotic surgery at a private hospital. Doctors claim this is the first time a complex spinal deformity has been fixed using robotic arms.

The robot not only fixed screws to straighten the vertebrae that had turned into a hunchback but it also helped surgeons remove the pus collected inside without cutting open the chest. It is suspected that the pus formation was caused due to tuberculosis infection.

Dr Rajendra Prasad, senior consultant in the neurosurgery department at Apollo Hospital, said the surgery—performed on July 15—”involved draining the pus in the first stage. Once he recovered from the surgery, his vertebrae were fixed from behind after a week to enable early mobilization”.

The doctors decided to conduct surgery using robotic arms to ensure faster recovery and reduce the risk of any inconsistency in fixing the screws. “Conventionally, the chest has to be cut open to remove the pus and then another procedure is conducted to fix the vertebrae using screws. It takes longer to recover and even with the skills of an experienced surgeon, there are chances of screw penetration and damage of the spine nerves and, in some cases, paralysis,” said Dr Arun Prasad, senior consultant, minimal access surgery.

“The surgery is expensive by over Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 than the normal surgery, but there are several benefits,” he added.

Nutan Jaiswal, Shivam’s mother, could not thank the doctors enough. “My child had been suffering from fever and back pain for over six months. We took him to local physicians and specialists in Dhanbad and Patna but they failed to diagnose the infection. This led to pus formation in the vertebrae and spinal curve. Had he not been operated in time, he would have been paralysed,” she said.

Apollo Institute of Robotic Surgery has performed 316 successful surgeries till date in several disciplines, including urology, paediatrics, gynaecology, bariatric and gastroenterology.

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