Technology continues to have a big impact on the region’s orthopedic patients through smaller incisions, less invasive and more precise procedures and quicker recovery times. From the office to the surgery room, computers and the latest innovations are now entrenched in the orthopedic world.
With a background in engineering, Dr. Nitin Khanna, of Spine Care Specialists in Munster, is a “huge tech guy” who celebrates and embraces the benefits of technology’s place in the world of medicine. “I have always had an aptitude for technology. It’s exciting when you feel like you are one step ahead of the curve,” he says. “With minimally invasive procedures, it’s all about how can we do what we need to do by disrupting the least amount of tissue possible. The concept is God built you better than I can fix you.”
Dr. Khanna has had the opportunity to work on advancements in spine care and spinal surgery, including Interlaminar Lumbar Instrumented Fusion. “One of the benefits of my background is I’ve worked to bring some minimally invasive technology to the market. I have worked on specific devices for common conditions that afflict lower back pain including ILIF. I was asked to be part of a design team that is a pioneer on MLIS [another minimally invasive procedure],” he says. “The standard had been making a large incision and disrupting a lot of the musculature of the back, which made for a longer recovery period. Now we are able to do it with such a small incision.”
Dr. Dwight Tyndall says technology has also allowed for more precision in the surgery room. Dr. Tyndall partners with Dr. Khanna at Spine Care Specialists, which is a division of Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana. “With an MRI scan, you get very precise information before the operation. We are going into surgery with a lot of information, even more than we had ten years ago, because the diagnostic imaging is so good we now know exactly what we are going to operate on,” he says. “Technology has made our lives easier. We now use microscopes when we operate for smaller incisions, less trauma and quicker recovery.”
Dr. Judson B. Wood Jr., an orthopedic surgeon at Methodist Hospitals, says as we move forward, the focus continues to be on better patient outcomes. “The computer is a powerful tool that has made its way into surgery. When we perform replacements, there is a big difference in post-op blood loss than we saw with the cuts made prior to the introduction of the computer navigation system,” he says. “It seems patients do a lot better as far as recovery time and they go about their normal daily living at a quicker pace.”
Methodist Hospitals recently unveiled its Multi-Specialty Navigational Operating Room Suite, which focuses on neurological, spinal and orthopedic surgeries. The computer-assisted surgery suite includes the Stryker Navigation System. “The new surgery suite is all state-of-the-art, from the monitors and X-rays to the lighting and computer system. We can make our measurements from readings the computer gives us simultaneously. In the old days, we had an X-ray up on a board and we had to look back and forth,” Dr. Wood says. “Everything is integrated and there is no guesswork.”
For technology to truly have an impact, it has to be widely welcomed by the majority of physicians, Dr. Khanna says. “Mixing technology and medicine is sometimes a very challenging venture, because physicians are sometimes slow to adapt best practices. With the introduction of electronic medical records, a lot of physicians were against it. I think with any technology, it is all in the user and how you take advantage of it,” he says. “Technology for the sake of technology is not an advancement. There has to be a clear, distinct advantage over what we were doing before. Some technologies have come and gone.”