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Wednesday, March 22, 2017 in Foundations, Royal University Hospital

Story courtesy Royal University Hospital Foundation

Orthopedic surgeons Michael Spiess and Allan Woo bring dedication and a tremendous skill set to Royal University Hospital's operating rooms, where their specialty is performing exacting spinal surgeries.

RUH Foundation's GREATE.R. Campaign is raising funds for an advanced O-Arm Imaging System that will make our surgeons' painstaking work more efficient and accurate and much safer, and will establish Royal University Hospital (RUH) as the most complete surgical spine centre in Canada in terms of specialists and NEWE.R. equipment.

The O-Arm can take a 3-D scan of a patient undergoing surgery in 13 seconds and provide high-quality images to the surgeon while that operation is underway. The O-Arm's portability is a strong asset: it can be moved from one operating room (OR) to another as required when separate procedures (e.g., a trauma surgery and a complex spine operation) are underway at the same time.


Dr. Spiess, who has experience working with the O-Arm, says the CT-quality real-time images it provides show the bony anatomy much more clearly than do the X-rays currently used in the OR. And he lists other benefits: "It's been a game-changer in reducing surgical time. Hardware placement (pins or rods) is more accurate and there's less blood loss and anaesthetic time, all of which equal less risk for patients."

Dr. Woo has also tested the O-Arm. He points to the impact on patients of improved accuracy in the placement of spine instrumentation, resulting in reduced revision rates. He notes that the O-Arm has been especially beneficial in cervical and thoracic spine cases and for surgery involving large patients.

Dr. Spiess notes that the O-Arm is invaluable in hardware placement in high-risk cases, such as patients with previous spinal surgery whose anatomy is distorted, or placement of hardware at the base of the neck or mid-back where the anatomy is complex.

While spinal surgery is the main indication for the O-Arm in Saskatoon and across North America, Dr. Spiess adds that it also is used in many other situations such as tumor surgery, neurological procedures such as deep brain stimulation and, less commonly, for repairing broken bones including pelvic fractures and other orthopedic injuries.

Dr. Spiess estimates that time-wise, the O-Arm will reduce the length of his spinal instrumentation surgery by 15 to 20 per cent. Not only will that benefit patients of all ages and operating room efficiency generally, it also reduces the radiation exposure of everyone in the OR. Staff can produce and use the images without having to wear lead aprons for the entire surgery.

Further, the O-Arm technology is of particular great value at RUH because we are a teaching hospital, where surgical trainees are involved to some degree in almost all operations.

Dr. Spiess concurs: "For these residents to be able to correlate the anatomy they see when we are doing the operations with the imaging guidance from the O-Arm will be very helpful."

RUH Foundation needs your support to raise the $1 million required for the O-Arm, an equipment priority of The $20 million GREATE.R. Campaign.

You will save lives. Contact Lisa Laskowski, Chief Development Officer, at 306-655-6530 to learn more, or donate online at

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 |
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