Business feature: Key hole surgery has significantly changed the prospect of going under the knife

Dr Mitch Hansen is an Australian trained paediatric and adult neurosurgeon and is a consultant neurosurgeon at several private hospitals across the Hunter region.

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Anyone who has suffered ongoing back pain and sciatica will know how debilitating it can be,with even the simplest of day to day functions often posing a degree of challenge.

For triathleteDavid Robins, 75, enduring 15 months of back and associated nerve pain became too much.

Having been unable to compete ina season of triathlons due to his condition, David’s specialist referred him to Neurosurgeon and spine surgeon Dr Mitch Hansen in Newcastle.

With 2 worn discs and a pinched nerve, Dr Hansen recommended that David undergo key hole surgery in his spine.

“I was unable to stand for any period of time and really couldn’t walk much more than 300 meters without having to stop. At that point I was ready, I’d had enough and so thought right let’s go, let’s do it,” saidDavid.

David was admitted to Newcastle Private Hospital a few months later and within the space of one week had undergone 2 key hole operations.

The procedures involved the first operation to fuse two discs and the second to effectively pin his spine back together with a series of screws and bolts.

While back surgery has traditionally triggered much hesitation among patients, withnoise around recovery rates and levels of success, revolutionary key hole surgery has essentially given patients a positive and less invasive route to better back health.

It is about causing less damage to the tissues to get to the problem to fix it – not just small holes. This helps get people moving much quicker and obviously back to work faster or their normal activities.

Dr Hansen explains that this minimal access surgery can be done in all parts of the spine,neck and back, whether it isfor trauma, tumour ordegenerative conditions.

“The ability to do disc surgery means thatpeople are usually home within 24 hours and in some cases back to sport within a couple of weeks,” began Hansen.

“It is about causing less damage to the tissues to get to the problem to fix it – not just small holes. This helps get people moving much quicker and obviously get back to work or their normal activities faster,” he added.

Just 4 days after his surgeries, David was back on a bike again and has since completed 5 triathlons in the 12 months since, notching up his 257thtriathlon completed since he began in 1984.

“I’ve had no problems at all, the healing has been very quick, with such small incisions there really wasn’t too much discomfort at all. I’ve come full circle and I’m back enjoying competitions again which is great” said David.

While DrHansen says that there is stilla time and place for major open surgery, there are options of minimal access surgery that people can discuss with their surgeon.