An Epworth HealthCare neurosurgeon has been recognised internationally for two studies that will improve outcomes for spinal surgery patients.

A research paper presented by Professor Greg Malham to the international SpineWeek 2023 conference in Melbourne, was recognised as the best presentation.

The research 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 can 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,’ Prof Malham said.

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

Prof Malham submitted another research paper to the International Journal of Spine Surgery, which was recognised as the top research paper of 2022.

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

Professor 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.”

“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.”

Prof Malham said research is important to improve outcomes for patients.

“Being recognised for two spinal surgery research papers shows the commitment Epworth has to improving patient care. The research provides patients with safer surgery, better outcomes, and a reduced risk of complications,” Prof Malham said.


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