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Ground-breaking approach bears results for spinal surgeries

Establishing the first-ever Pediatric Spinal Surgical Team (PSST) in North America

Spinal surgeries in children can be complex and delicate operations. When they go well, they can help restore the health of kids with severe scoliosis and other painful and debilitating conditions.  But when complications occur, they can lead to longer hospital stays, additional surgeries or lifelong disabilities.

Recent research led by BC Children’s Hospital researcher and pediatric spine surgeon Dr. Firoz Miyanji has found that a ground-breaking approach to improving spinal surgery outcomes has had tremendous success.

In 2010, under the leadership and direction of Dr. Miyanji, a group of health care providers at the hospital came together to establish the first-ever Pediatric Spinal Surgical Team (PSST) in North America. As part of this pioneering approach, a core group of clinicians, including operating theatre nurses, anaesthetists and neuromonitoring technicians received in-depth training on spinal surgeries and are now being assigned specifically to these procedures, ensuring that spinal surgery patients are being given the most specialized care possible.

The research on this innovative approach has resulted in a 94 per cent decrease in surgical site infections, a decrease of nearly 42 minutes in the average length of time each patient spent in the operating room, and a decrease of nearly six days inthe average hospital stay.

“These findings show that the specialized teams working cohesively in the operating rooms at BC Children’s are really making a difference,” says Dr. Miyanji.

“We’re giving kids who need spinal surgeries the best possible chance to heal safely and quickly so they can go back to enjoying their childhoods.” — Dr. Firoz Miyanji, BC Children’s Hospital researcher and pediatric spine surgeon

Clinicians at many other Canadian and US medical centres are now engaging their hospitals to develop similar programs based on the success of the PSST at BC Children’s. Dr. Miyanji hopes the success of the new approach will lead to more hospitals adopting this initiative.

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Beating the odds

"I thought it slowed me down, but I believe now that I can do anything I want—no matter how many surgeries I've had. I wouldn't be the same person without those scars." — Avery 

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