Software may help surgeons with spine operations

New York patients may be interested to learn that researchers at Johns Hopkins reportedly developed a software program that helps surgeons identify the different vertebrae. This program, which labels the different vertebrae in X-ray images, could potentially reduce the risk of wrong-level spinal surgery.

Before patients undergo the spine surgery, surgeons take a CT or MRI scan of the spine in order to plan the surgery. When the patient is brought into the operating room, the surgeon usually finds the damaged vertebra by counting from the base of the skull or from the tailbone. Pins are placed at the surgery site; an X-ray is then taken to ensure that the vertebra in question has been properly located. However, the scan used to plan the procedure is often not available during the actual surgery, potentially leading to mistakes.

Wrong-level spine surgery is estimated to occur at least four times every week across the nation. These surgeries can result in serious injuries that could result in a degenerative spinal column that may require follow-up surgery in the future. It is hoped that program, which allows the surgeons to integrate their preoperative scan with the X-ray taken in the operating room. The researchers found that their program was 100 percent right every time as long as it was given approximately 26 seconds to run the algorithm.

While most surgeons and other medical professionals incorporate technology in an effort to reduce potential surgical errors, mistakes can still happen. If a patient suffers a serious injury due to a wrong-level spinal cord operation, the patient may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim against the surgeon, the medical staff and the hospital where the operation took place. An attorney may help their patient seek compensation for their medical bills and for any pain and suffering.

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