Cleveland, Ohio – Improper spinal surgery can deprive a patient of the ability to walk, but an advanced technology called the Pulse Platform increases the chances of surgery succeeding by creating 3D images of the patient’s spine.
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital was among the first in the world to use Pulse to perform pediatric spinal surgery this month.
Dr. Michael Glotsbecker, head of the Department of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at UH Rainbow, uses Pulse to operate on a 12-year-old girl from Northeast Ohio with juvenile idiopathic scoliosis or spinal curvature.
Pulse brings together all the technologies used in pediatric spinal surgery in one place. It combines X-ray image with less radiation, improving the image from 2D to 3D, spinal cord monitoring to avoid injury, and alignment tools to properly straighten the spine.
There are other computerized systems, such as Pulse, that help surgeons move through the body for precision surgery.
Pulse stands out because it uses a low-radiation 3D X-ray image, which reduces the patient’s exposure to X-rays. This is especially important for pediatric patients, Glotsbecker said.
“In fact, not only do you get less radiation, but you also get more information (in X-rays) with less radiation,” he said.
Pulse also monitors the spinal cord as it is stretched or curved during surgery, preventing injuries that can lead to paralysis.
The Pulse platform was developed by NuVasive, a San Diego-based spine technology company. Launched in 2021 in the United States, the technology is used in adult surgery at other US hospitals, but rarely in pediatric cases, Glotsbecker said.
“This is a great opportunity to provide the safest and most modern care for our patients,” said Glotsbecker. “It’s a stalemate because there really is no potential risk to the patient and there is only a great benefit. It’s the best kind of technology to perceive. “
What is juvenile idiopathic scoliosis?
Otherwise, healthy children who have a curvature in the spine, pronounced enough to require corrective surgery, are diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis.
Diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy can cause it. But for most patients the cause is unknown. The condition tends to run in families. It affects girls more than boys and occurs during growth spurts in their teens.
“If they have scoliosis, the (curve) is more likely to get bigger when they grow the fastest,” he said.
Spinal deformities worsen with age, leading to arthritis, degenerative changes in the spine, and decreased lung function. Although most children with scoliosis have no symptoms or pain, they often undergo surgery to correct the condition when they are young.
During the operation of the 14-year-old boy in UH on June 1, Glotzbecker attached screws to the vertebrae and connected the screws with a stick to correct bending or twisting of the spine. The vertebrae will merge together so that the spine no longer bends.
3D images of the spine on the Pulse platform during the operation ensure the exact placement of the screws along the spine and allow Glotzbecker to see if the spine is straight enough.
The operation lasted four hours. The patient returned home after two days in hospital and is feeling well, he said. The patient was charged for the surgical costs, but not for the use of Pulse, he said.
UH did not answer questions about the cost of Pulse technology.
Pulse is the future of medicine, Glotsbecker said.
“I want to be the center of the spine in northeastern Ohio, which provides the best and safest thing out there,” Glotsbecker said. “I’m in tune with the opportunities that exist, such as technology that has the potential to help our patients and make UH the place to be.”