Birender Balain, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) near Oswestry, has been involved in this kind of minimally invasive complex spinal surgery – known as fully endoscopic spine surgery (FESS) – since 2017.
FESS is an advanced, state-of-the-art form of surgery designed to provide much quicker recovery times and less recurring pain than traditional spinal surgery methods for patients.
This kind of surgery allows for the same operation and technique to be used as in open surgery, but is done through a single and small keyhole incision, whereas in open surgery the incision can vary from 4cm to 8cm in length.
RJAH was the first NHS hospital in the country to practice this latest generation of endoscopic spine surgery.
Mr Balain and RJAH were presented with the centre of excellence award by RIWOspine – which makes the innovative endoscopic equipment, used in the hospital’s theatres.
On receiving the award, Mr Balain said: “It’s fantastic that the trust has been recognised in this way for this pioneering work.
"Having been involved in this type of surgery for four years, I feel extremely proud.
“I think FESS will be the way forward for all common spine surgeries, and in the coming years, new surgeons will be trained in these techniques as there are huge benefits to patients, such as much speedier recovery times, as well as less post-operative discomfort and pain.”
The small incision means less trauma to skin, muscle, and soft tissues, resulting in less blood loss.
And most FESS procedures can be completed in about an hour, allowing the patient to be back on their feet within a few hours following post-operative recovery.
Dr Andy Singh, head of RIWOspine UK, said: “It gives me great pleasure to award Mr Balain and RJAH, with our centre of cxcellence award.
“The award is in recognition of Mr Balain and the amazing work he has been doing, and continues to do, at RJAH making it a distinguished global centre of excellence for FESS.
“Mr Balain and RJAH will be joining only a handful of centres around the world to receive such high recognition.”
In recent years, the League of Friends to RJAH has purchased state-of-the-art endoscopic surgical equipment, in a bid to support the trust in carrying out this kind of surgery.
Mark Brandreth, the hospital's chief executive, added: “It’s fantastic that the trust has been named as a centre of excellence for Mr Balain and the team’s practice in FESS. What a truly fantastic achievement.
“It’s making a great deal of difference to our patients, as this surgery results in a much speedier recovery time.
“Congratulations to Mr Balain and his team. I’d also like to thank the team at RIWOspine for this wonderful recognition.
“Thanks must also go to our generous and supportive League of Friends for supporting this piece of work, through purchasing this kit, enabling us to be able to carry out this procedure.”