New tool improves complex spinal surgeries at Saint Francis-Bartlett

Saint Francis Hospital - Bartlett logoSaint Francis Hospital in Bartlett is using new spinal surgery technology that helps doctors be more precise and typically improves patient outcomes.

The hospital is the first in the area to have an O-arm Multidimensional Imaging System. It provides a three-dimensional view of the spine – particularly useful for complex cases such as spinal fusions.

Dr. Stephen Waggoner with the Memphis Orthopaedic Group explained how it’s used in surgery: A portable CT scanner is brought over the patient in sterile conditions to catch reference frames. The CT scan makes it much more accurate to place the necessary screws into the patient’s spine with less risk of damaging adjacent nerve roots and blood vessels, he said.

Previously, there was about a 10 percent chance that screws would be misplaced, but this technology reduces that chance to below 1 percent.

The tool is much more valuable than X-rays, which are one-dimensional and which require the use of a lot of radiation exposure for the patient and the staff throughout the procedure.

The device also lets doctors make a smaller incision, so there is less soft tissue trauma and less blood loss, Waggoner said. That means the patient usually can go home from the hospital sooner and recover quicker.

It also can make the surgery itself go faster once doctors have mastered the equipment’s learning curve, he said.

The hospital has been using it for about two or three months, and Waggoner believes it’s been a worthwhile investment.

CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to