First for the county as KGH surgeon performs new operation

A patient from Desborough was the first to have it

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 12:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 12:40 pm
Purnajyoti Banerjee performing a minimally invasive ‘key hole’ discectomy
operation. Picture published with permission of patient.
Purnajyoti Banerjee performing a minimally invasive ‘key hole’ discectomy operation. Picture published with permission of patient.

A Desborough woman has become the first person in the county to have a new ‘key hole’ operation to remove a disc from a person’s spine.

Tracey Westley, 45, had the minimally invasive discectomy operation at KGH on March 16, performed by consultant orthopaedic spine surgeon Purnajyoti Banerjee.

The new operation is beneficial because its smaller wound size reduces the risk of infection and post-operative pain and enables a faster recovery than an alternative open procedure with a much larger incision.

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Tracey Westley, pictured with her husband Anthony and daughter Caitlyn.

Teaching assistant Tracey, who is married to Anthony and has a 15-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, said: “I started with pain in my back in early 2020 and it just got worse and worse over time.

“I couldn’t sit down, bend, or walk very far. I couldn’t lay down in comfort, and it was disrupting my sleep, work and home life.

“I had an MRI scan in February 2021 and they found I had a herniated disc that was pressing on my nerve and at risk of causing me problems with my bowel and bladder.

“I had the operation and I left hospital the following day. The pain was minimal and now I am back to my normal life and starting work again on May 4.

“I want to say a big thank you to Mr Banerjee and everyone who looked after me. They were all fantastic.”

The operation lasts about two hours and involves using X-ray, a special kind of operating table, and other specialist equipment, to enable a small tube to be inserted into the back and down to the disc.

The surgeon then uses a large binocular microscope and lights to see down the tube to the disc.

They can then, using special instruments, carefully remove, or decompress, the disc, before closing, stitching and gluing the wound closed.

Patients will normally recover well from the new operation in four to six weeks. Mrs Westley says, five weeks on, 90 per cent of her pain is gone and the rest is diminishing and she is back to normal activity.

Mr Banerjee said: “Most people with disc problems do not need surgery but sometimes compressed discs can press on important nerves and – as well as causing great pain – lead to problems with the bowel and bladder.

“In these cases surgery is needed and the conventional way has been to perform an open procedure with a significant incision.

“Using the new keyhole method enables a quicker recovery and return to normal life and also works well with patients with a higher body mass index – a factor which complicates open surgery.

“I have performed this new operation before in Scotland and London but this is the first time it has been done in Northamptonshire.”

The second patient to have the new operation was Adam Penn, 27, a deputy charge nurse at Kettering General Hospital.

Mr Penn, who lives in Kettering with his wife Cassie, had his operation on April 20.

He said: “I had been suffering from very intense pain in my left leg because I had a herniated disc which was pressing on my nerve in the spinal column.

“I had the operation, stayed overnight, and was able to go home the next morning. My wife is helping me but I am already up and about and the pain in my leg has almost all gone.

“I think it’s a great new operation that will help people to recover from disc problems which can cause very intense and persistent pain.”

Mr Banerjee thanked his team for their support, especially spinal co-ordinator Jennifer McCaffery and secretary Vivienne Allport.