Netcare Greenacres Hospital leads the way in spinal surgery technology

First hospital in Africa to acquire proAXIS Spinal Surgery Table

Wednesday, November 13 2013

For Johan van der Merwe (55)*, the greatest joy in his life is playing with his two young grandsons. Aged four and five, Riaan and Sarel are boisterous boys who in turn love to rough and tumble with their ‘Oupa’. But a few months ago, daily playtime with their grandfather stopped abruptly when Johan started experiencing severe pain in his arm, which only seemed to worsen as time wore on. Mr Van der Merwe was in such agony that he was unable to play with his grandsons. Because of his extreme discomfort, he actually got irritated with them very quickly.
“In early September, Mr Van der Merwe consulted me with severe pain in his right arm and armpit, which originated from the C7, T1 and T2 vertebrae. He needed surgery. However, I was concerned about the shortness of his neck, which would make it difficult to access the vertebrae accurately and that our existing spinal surgery table would be too small for his large size,” explains Dr Frik van Aarde, spinal surgeon at Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

Yet there was hope on the horizon for Mr Van der Merwe, because Netcare Greenacres Hospital had ordered the Mizuho OSI proAXIS spinal surgery table for delivery in late September, making it the first hospital in Africa to acquire the state-of-the-art table. “The proAXIS spinal surgery table features software-controlled, advanced hinge technology designed to support the biomechanical aspects of spinal procedures. We first saw this table at a medical congress this year and were very impressed by its capabilities. We motivated strongly for an upgrade of the existing table to ensure that our patients continue to get the most advanced care possible,” says Dr Van Aarde.
Dr Van Aarde was able to perform a posterior exploration of the nerve and disk on Mr Van der Merwe’s right side as the proAXIS spinal surgery table allows a large degree of flexion and extension of the spine and neck. The table can be used for patients weighing up to 250 kilograms and was able to accommodate Mr Van der Merwe comfortably.
“Another advantage of the new table is that the surgeon can take and view X-rays during the operation, allowing for incredibly accurate and precise surgical performance. The table’s open-frame design easily converts to a radiolucent imaging top, and its carbon-fibre construction ensures excellent imaging without any interference at the surgical site. The table thus offers better results for surgical procedures like Mr Van Der Merwe’s, as the anterior-posterior and lateral views can all be screened during the operation,” explains Dr Van Aarde.
The surgeon can finely adapt the table as required with a software-driven remote, known as the IntelliPENDANT, which displays real-time information on the table’s hinge, height and lateral tilt. The IntelliPENDANT has an easy-to-use interface which allows for precise monitoring of the table’s position, clear selection of the table’s functions and memory storage.
Mr van der Merwe was operated on in mid-October, and was delighted that the severe pain he had been experiencing in his arm completely dissipated within hours of the procedure. “I am extremely grateful to Dr Van Aarde and to Netcare Greenacres Hospital as I am no longer debilitated by pain and able to play with my grandsons again,” says Mr Van der Merwe.
Speaking about the many procedures the table enables surgeons to accomplish, Dr Van Aarde says, “With the proAXIS table, we are now able to perform posterior neck surgery with instrumentation, which we were unable to carry out on the previous spinal surgery table. We perform approximately two to five operations daily on this table and I believe we have just touched the tip of the iceberg regarding its potential. ”
Gloria Murison, general manager at Netcare Greenacres Hospital, says, “Netcare invests significantly in the group’s facilities, enabling hospitals such as ours to stay at the forefront of healthcare delivery. We are extremely proud to be the first hospital in Africa to acquire this technology. Aligned with our commitment to quality patient care, the proAXIS table assists our surgeons in providing enhanced treatment to individuals like Mr Van der Merwe, ensuring better surgical outcomes.”
*The patient’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Sarah Beswick or Graeme Swinney
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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