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Life changing scoliosis surgery filmed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge

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Addenbrooke’s surgeons perform life changing scoliosis surgery to straighten the spine of their 17-year-old patient.

But they risk paralysing him –– in the next episode of ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ at 9pm on BBC Two on Wednesday (15 Feb).

This complex and demanding surgery will be undertaken by orthopaedic spinal surgeon John Crawford and orthopaedic consultant Doug Hay.

Nikesh Thiruchelvam (consultant reconstructive urological surgeon) and Nikita Bhatt (registrar) (002)

Nikesh Thiruchelvam (consultant reconstructive urological surgeon) and Nikita Bhatt (registrar)

James developed scoliosis in adolescence – an abnormal twisting and curvature of the spine.

He was scheduled to have his corrective surgery two years ago, but it was delayed due to COVID-19.

As a result, James’s curvature is now at the extreme end of the spectrum; having gone from 55 degrees to just over 100 degrees.

As the curvature impacts the ribcage, James is now having difficulty walking, standing and breathing.

Risks involved in operation

If he doesn’t have the operation his quality of life will continue to decline, and each month that passes, he will become increasingly disabled.

But the seven hour procedure has its risks as the spinal cord – the bundle of nerves that carries essential signals between the brain and the body – is at the centre of where the surgeons must operate.

In this episode, the programme also features 75 year-old Carole who needs specialist surgery to correct a faulty urethra. This is the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

(L to R) Consultant spinal orthopaedic surgeons John Crawford and Doug Hay with scrub nurse Minela Olszewska (002)

(L to R) Consultant spinal orthopaedic surgeons John Crawford and Doug Hay with scrub nurse Minela Olszewska

The specialist surgery is only offered in four UK centres, and Carole’s operation is being carried out by leading reconstructive urology consultant Nikesh Thiruchelvam.

Nikesh is a pioneer in treating female incontinence – a condition that affects at least a quarter of women in the UK.

Condition dominates Carole’s life

Carole first started having problems two decades ago after a hysterectomy. Over the years her condition has become progressively worse and despite five operations to try and correct the issue, she now has almost no control over her bladder.

The condition has come to dominate her life leaving her feeling helpless every time she leaves the house, so much so that she always carries extra clothes in case she has an accident.

For Carole and Peter – her husband of almost 40 years – the complex operation that Nikesh has planned is their last hope for a return to a normal life.

But the operation turns out to be even more challenging than normal and damage to the vaginal wall risks the surgery failing.

The ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ series showcases some of the ground-breaking work undertaken by surgeons here at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Tune in to next week’s episode, produced by Dragonfly Film & TV (a Banijay UK company), and follow James and Carole’s stories.

 

 

 

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