Spinal surgeries: many delays, but few surgeons

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About 200 patients are waiting for spinal surgery in Manitoba, but the province has only 7 surgeons, according to the chair of the Surgical and Diagnostic Services Restoration Task Force, Dr. Peter MacDonald.

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Of the seven specialists, one is at Brandon, and six others are at the Health Sciences Center (HSC) in Winnipeg, backbone in Manitoba to meet the needs, Drs. MacDonald.

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Of the patients waiting for surgery, Garth Merkeley has been waiting nearly four years for spinal surgery and, despite recent promises from the province about chasing surgery backlogs, his procedure is still not completed. .

The 78-year-old Winnipegger is awaiting spinal fusion, a procedure to permanently connect the vertebrae to his spine. She explained that her surgeon had warned her that the wait should take another 6 to 9 months.

I will never make it, I will die of unnecessary pain.

A quote from Garth Merkeley, awaiting spinal surgery

Garth Merkeley said he was starting to have nerve damage to his lower body, and atrophied leg muscles, and without surgery his condition and pain would only worsen.

This delay seriously affects his quality of life. You try to lead your life with your friends, but you can’t do what you used to do. Difficulty with his wife. Difficulty in his family.

Doctors Manitoba estimate that more than 160,000 diagnostic or surgical cases are backlog in Manitoba.

The patient’s movement continues in Fargo

Dr.  Peter MacDonald.

Dr. taught. Peter MacDonald that backlogs in spinal surgeries existed even before the pandemic began. In a pandemic, they worsen due to increasing demand for Winnipeg Health Sciences Center.

To reduce the backlog of surgeries, MacDonald said the province will hire an additional orthopedic surgeon at Brandon and four physiotherapists at the spine clinic.

The province also plans to expand its project at Sanford Health Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota, sending 19 additional patients there for spine surgery.

The program continues to grow. It has passed the pilot phase and is no longer this small project. We are increasing the numbers and we hope to help as many people as possiblesaid Dr. MacDonald.

He said other patients on the waitlist, who require simpler spinal procedures, may be eligible for surgery at Concordia Hospital or Maples Surgical Center in Winnipeg.

Operating out of the province

Garth Merkeley looks at his medical records.

When seeing doctors in the United States, Garth Merkeley said he could have a spinal fusion in a few weeks in California for $ 31,000.

He also plans to travel to Dusseldorf, Germany, where spinal fusion will cost him $ 70,000 plus a hospital stay.

Garth Merkeley asked the province to cover an out-of-province spinal fusion, but said he did not qualify because Manitoba does not cover the procedures available in Canada.

He also asked about the Fargo program and did not get a definitive answer from his surgeon.

In files from Peggy Lam

Source: Radio-Canada

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