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Back and neck pain is a fact of life for many people. Back pain is the leading cause of disability in people under 45 years old, the third leading cause of disability in people over 45 years of age and the second most common reason for surgery. Patients with persistent back problems face chronic pain and reduced mobility to the point where they can lose their ability to function in everyday activities and their enjoyment of life. Spinal surgery is used to correct problems in the spine that do not respond to more conservative, non-surgical treatments and that severely impair a patient's ability to perform activities of daily living.
The Division of Neurosurgery performs state-of-the-art spine surgery. Huge advances in skills, knowledge, instrumentation and technology have led to the development of minimally invasive spine surgery techniques (MIS), which are designed to improve patient outcomes and quality of life by lessening the impact and stress of surgery. MIS allows surgeons to precisely target areas of the spine while disturbing as little of the supporting tissues and muscles as possible, resulting in less postoperative pain, reduced blood loss, minimal scarring, quicker recovery time and speedier return to normal function for patients. MIS can be used to treat an evolving array of spinal disorders, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, fractures, tumours, infections, instability, and deformity.
“MIS has the potential to change the face of care for people who suffer from spinal injuries and back problems. The Centre of Excellence will allow us to tap this potential so that you, your loved ones and fellow Montrealers can reap its benefits today and for many years to come."
– Dr. Jeff Golan, Division of Neurosurgery
The creation of the Centre of Excellence in Spinal Surgery will be vital to extend the benefits of MIS and other leading edge surgical procedures to more people not only in Montreal but across Quebec, and keep up with technological advances.
The Centre of Excellence in Spinal Surgery will include state-of-the-art clinical and surgical technologies, research, and educational/training programs. Clinical research focusing on quality of life, pain perception, return to work, and other measures that can be used to quantify the advantages of MIS compared to traditional surgical methods is essential to establish a baseline for assessing and improving results as technology and treatments continue to evolve. This research will be complemented by collaborative efforts with other hospital systems in Montreal to promote further investigation in spine-related topics.
An incredibly quick and painless recovery
"My lower back pain began 5 years ago. At first, I was able to overcome the pain and play golf three times weekly by taking one 400g Advil. Over a period of three years, I had to increase the number of Advils to four and then had to stop playing golf altogether.
That's when I visited with Dr. Jeff Golan, a neurosurgeon at the JGH and one of the few surgeons with advanced training in minimally invasive spinal surgery in Canada. As I am 82 years old, Dr. Golan wanted to avoid surgery and suggested injections. The epidurals did provide me with some relief but only over a period of four to five days. Then the pain would start all over again.
Dr. Golan and then discussed surgery. Since there was a 90% chance that it would be beneficial and only a 10% chance of not resulting in any improvement, we went for it. I was in the pre-operating room from 7:30 to 8:30, in surgery from 9:00 to 11:30, in the recovery room until 1:00pm and returned to my bedroom in the hospital at 1:30pm, where my family was waiting for me. At 2:30pm, I felt good enough to want to get out of bed – which I did – and walked about 20 steps on my own. A half a dozen short walks later, I was walking the length of the corridor unassisted. I was amazed, to say the least.
It is now over 3 weeks since my surgery. I am fully recovered. I walk all day, without any pain. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Golan and to the JGH for their unique expertise and commitment in giving me back my quality of life."
Training fellowships will also be established to encourage surgeons to study an additional year and pursue advanced training to become an expert in minimally invasive and complex spinal surgery instead of going into practice on their own. All in all, the Centre and its programs will inevitably improve patient outcomes as more surgeons learn to utilize the latest technology and gain competency in delivering advanced care.
Private funding will be the key to establish the infrastructure, acquire the state-of-the-art instrumentation and hire the human resources – an electrophysiologist, an epidemiologist and a research coordinator – needed to make this critically needed Centre a reality. The establishment of a $3M Endowment Fund is especially crucial, as it will provide the Centre of Excellence with a stable and permanent source of funding to support its operations, sponsor the training of one Fellow per year and continue to provide patients with the benefits accruing from the latest technologies.
The Division of Neurosurgery at the JGH
Specialized spinal surgery table
Endowment Fund for new technology, Fellowship training and human resources
Of creating a Centre of Excellence in Spinal Surgery
Of minimally invasive spinal surgery (MIS)