Research Medical Center
February 03, 2017

William Rosenberg, M.D., neurosurgeon and spine and pain specialist at the Center for the Relief of Pain at Research Medical Center, recently performed the world’s first fully image-guided robot-guided sacroiliac joint (SI) fusion procedure. The technological advancement allows for increased surgical accuracy and minimal invasiveness while performing the complex procedure on a three-dimensional joint. Research Medical Center is part of HCA Midwest Health, Kansas City’s leading healthcare provider.

The sacroiliac joint is located at the base of the spine and connects the sacrum with the pelvis. Joint dysfunction symptoms can include debilitating lower back and/or buttocks pain and pinched or compressed nerves.  Traditionally the condition can be treated with physical therapy, exercise and pain medications and/or injections; however, when these methods fail, surgical intervention is a viable option for the patient. Sixty-nine-year-old Dixie Borovicka of Paola, Kan., had suffered for several years from severe tenderness and pain radiating over the SI joint on the left side, impacting her quality of life, and conventional methods failed. Following consultation with the patient, Rosenberg recommended the image-guided joint fusion.

“Minimally invasive surgery represents a major technological breakthrough for patients like Dixie,” Rosenberg says. “My experience with neurosurgery began in 1988 and it’s very exciting to see progress continually being made. Not only does minimally invasive surgery help make it safer for patients, it’s exciting to apply this technology to patients suffering with sacroiliitis.”

This is the second surgery Rosenberg has performed on Borovicka, who heard about the neurosurgeon in 2012 from her brother who lives in California.

“Dr. Rosenberg performed back surgery on my brother in 2001 and when I had debilitating pain on my left side, he recommended I make an appointment,” Borovicka says.  “That went so well that when Dr. Rosenberg talked about doing this groundbreaking procedure on my right side this year, I didn’t hesitate.”

However, the recovery that Borovicka is experiencing with the minimally invasive SI fusion procedure is markedly different from 2012.

“For starters, Dr. Rosenberg had me walking the same day of this surgery, compared with 2012, when I was non-weight-bearing for three weeks,” she says. “And week two following this surgery I could walk a mile, compared with four years ago when it was three months post-surgery before I could walk that far.”

Although she still has minor pain, Borovicka is confident it will disappear over time. Meanwhile, her quality of life has improved with this surgery—and she anticipates returning to square dancing with her husband soon.

“Even the normal things you do, like getting out of bed in the morning, isn’t painful,” she says. “I’ve gone on two vacations since the surgery—four years ago, following the first surgery, I was stuck in a wheelchair in the house while I recovered. The procedure Dr. Rosenberg performed is truly remarkable.”

Rosenberg and the team of experts at Research Medical Center were also the first in the bi-state region to perform minimally invasive spine surgery and they continue to pioneer alternate methods of utilizing leading-edge technology to facilitate complex procedures to alleviate patients’ pain and return them to their daily lives.

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