Research provides patients with safer surgery

by MedicMall Admin


Epworth HealthCare's commitment to improving patient outcomes has led to international recognition for one of the Victorian group's neurosurgeons.

Professor Greg Malham has had success with two studies, one of which was named best presentation at SpineWeek 2023, an annual international conference held this year in Melbourne.

Another submission, to the International Journal of Spine Surgery, was recognised as the top research paper of 2022.

Prof Malham remained modest about the achievements.

“Being recognised for two spinal surgery research papers shows the commitment Epworth has to improving patient care,” he said. 

“The research provides patients with safer surgery, better outcomes, and a reduced risk of complications.”

The paper presented to the SpineWeek conference looked at the potential for the arterial blood supply to the legs be partially blocked during surgery for a lumbar fusion or artificial disc replacement, which can cause complications.

Prof Malham said a device called a pulse oximeter could be used to measure oxygen saturation in the blood during surgery, instantly alerting the surgeon to blocked blood vessels to the legs. 

“A pulse oximeter is usually put on a patient’s finger to see how much oxygen is in their blood,” he said.

“It allows the surgeon to protect the blood vessels, which reduces complications for the patients during surgery.”

The second research paper involved spinal surgery patients who required a second operation to repair wear and tear on their spine, above the site of the original procedure.

Prof Malham said the second procedure was usually done as a major operation on the patient’s back.

“However, our research looked at whether keyhole surgery done through the patients’ side was just as effective,” he said.

“We found we were able to use a keyhole procedure to insert an expandable titanium cage to replace the worn-out spinal disc. 

“The keyhole surgery means less recovery time for the patient, so it is of significant benefit to them.”


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