British Orthopaedic Association Newsletter
“OPERATION STRAIGHT SPINE” – a project for underprivileged in India
In Nov 2006, two surgeons, Dr Jeffrey R. McConnell, MD, Consultant Spine Surgeon from OAA Orthopaedic Specialists, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA and Mr Ujjwal K Debnath, FRCS, MS (Orth), Senior Registrar, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK had set out with a team (comprising of five specialists) to perform spinal surgical camp and workshop at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan (a teaching hospital) in the heart of Kolkata, India. The team members were three clinical nurse specialists (Sharon Monahan-Anaesthesia, Andrea McAloose- Scrub, Holly Tavianini – Spinal care), one Neural monitoring technician – Vijay Tambi and Instrument specialist from Meditronik, USA – David Kelley.
The project named “Operation Straight Spine” – a transatlantic collaboration between the two surgeons for solving spinal problems in the underprivileged people in India esp. poor children with spinal deformities. This project took four years in its development under the auspices of Spine Education and Research Foundation (SERF), USA which has expanded the realm of possibilities for surgeons to deliver complex equipment intensive surgeries in under-resourced regions of the world e.g. India.
The spinal project lasted twelve days comprising of regular clinics, case selection, resident’s teaching, pre-operative planning, surgeries, post-operative care and rehabilitation. A spinal symposium was held for the hospital professionals and local orthopaedic surgeons. At least 50 patients were seen in the clinics with various spinal problems e.g. Low back pain (Disc disease, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis etc), cervical and thoracic disc disease, post-tubercular kyphotic deformity, ankylosing spondylitis etc. Five patients underwent decompression and fusion for grade 3 spondylolisthesis at lower lumbar spine. One young man had direct repair of spondylolysis at fifth lumbar pars lesion.
Ten children with spinal deformities were also evaluated during the clinics. Spinal deformities included idiopathic scoliosis, congenital scoliosis and neuromuscular scoliosis. One sixteen year old boy with thoracic idiopathic scoliosis had instrumented surgical correction with fusion.
Meditronik-Sofamor Danek, USA funded the spinal equipments worth approx 5 million USD along with implants and packs of BMPs (Bone Morphogenetic Protein) for fusion and deformity correction. It is very generous of the company to have donated implants free of cost to these poor patients (each ranging 20000-40000 USD). Neural monitoring (motor evoked potentials) was performed in all patients. No intra or post-operative complications were encountered. All patients were discharged home with healed surgical wounds.
The whole surgical team was applauded by the patients, local orthopaedic team headed by Prof (Dr) Tapas Chakraburtty, MS(Orth), the state orthopaedic association headed by Prof (Dr) Tapan Moitra and the media (TV and newspaper) for the tremendous success of the first such spinal surgical camp organised in India.