First O’arm spinal surgery on the Sunshine Coast

Written By: Stephen Byrne Neurosurgeon and Complex Spine Surgeon

Recently, I had the pleasure of undertaking the first ever ‘O arm’ spinal surgery case on the Sunshine Coast. The ‘O arm’ is a sophisticated device that provides surgeon with real-time CT quality imaging intraoperatively during spinal fusion procedures.

Spinal fusion surgery is technically demanding and stressful for both patients and surgeons, it’s vital to have access to the most sophisticated technology in order to reduce the rate of complications.

I have been following a 71 year old man for some time due to his spinal problems. He initially had a spinal operation carried out in the 1980’s and had been well for sometime until the degenerative changes in his spine began to cause a lumbar radiculopathy due to compression of the L3 nerve root. He had impaired sensation in the L3 dermatome (anterior thigh), weakness in the L3 myotome (knee extension), quadriceps muscle wasting and an absent knee jerk reflex. He had symptoms for sometime and had exhausted non-surgical treatment.

Non surgical treatment includes, doing nothing or taking painkillers, as the natural history is favourable; injections, physiotherapy and pain management specialist involvement. His quality of life was poor and he had given up hobbies that he had previously enjoyed. The L3 nerve root was compressed in the neural foramen and this is best addressed by inserting an interbody device to increase the neural foraminal height and decompress the nerve as well as stabilising the L3/4 motion segment with pedicle screws. Both the patient and myself were keen to reduce the operative time, blood loss and hospital stay but this had historically been quite difficult after major fusion procedures. The ‘O arm’ allowed me to decompress the spinal nerves, insert an inter body cage and fuse L3/4 through two 3.5cm incisions. Blood loss was 300ml and he was discharged home on the 2nd post operative day. He had complete resolution of his radicular symptoms.


I’m very excited about using the ‘O arm’ on the Sunshine Coast as we now have access to technology that was only previously available in Brisbane.