“The surgeon still does the operation, helped by computer- guided navigation, which guides the surgeon to the right spot with millimetre accuracy”

A Goulburn Valley crop famer is back on her feet after historic robotic spinal surgery at Epworth Richmond.

Shauna Miller battled worsening back pain for months, forcing her to give up working on the farm, which has been in her husband’s family since 1890.

Most nights she woke in pain and other treatments had not worked.

“The pain was unbearable at times,” Shauna said.

“You would take pain killers. They would end up knocking you out and you’d go back to bed until you woke up again.”

Shauna was referred to spinal surgeon Professor Greg Malham at Epworth Richmond.

Prof Malham performed spinal surgery using the CIRQ spinal robot, the first time the CIRQ robot was used in conjunction with BrainLab surgical navigation in Australia.

“The CIRQ robot is a new innovation to help patients,” Prof Malham said.

“We can do minimally invasive surgery safer, faster and more accurately, which certainly reduces stress for the surgeon. The minimally invasive surgery means less time in hospital and a faster recovery for the patient “

Prof Malham said the robot is controlled by the surgeon.

“The robot is really a guidance arm for the surgeon. The surgeon still does the operation, helped by computer- guided navigation, which guides the surgeon to the right spot with millimetre accuracy and locks the robot arm in place. The robot is then used as a guide to make the correct incision and decompress a nerve safely”.

Allison Evans, Executive General Manager, Epworth Richmond, said Epworth has pioneered the use of robotic surgery for almost 20 years.

“Epworth was the first hospital group in Australia to use a robot in prostate surgery,” Ms Evans said.

“Robots are now commonly used in prostate and orthopaedic surgery and the introduction of the first CIRQ spinal robot in Australia, will help even more patients”.

Shauna hopes to return to full farm duties soon.

CIRQ spinal robot surgery