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New scoliosis surgery ‘could be revolutionary,’ but Halifax surgeon says questions remain

The surgeon’s efforts are being watched by other physicians across North America as the device hasn’t yet been approved in the United States.

El-Hawary is also hearing from patients as far away as South America and Australia who are interested in the ApiFix approach.

He has performed the surgery six times in Halifax, and more are planned in the coming weeks.

“First and foremost, I would like to be able to offer this to the patients in the Maritime provinces. The only time we’re doing extra patients from elsewhere, we’re doing our best not to displace local patients,” said El-Hawary.

Tears of joy

In Ontario, Jessica’s mother said she did her homework before opting for something so new. She believes it was a risk worth taking.

“With the ApiFix, you haven’t burned any bridges,” she said. “If for some reason the device no longer works, you can always have it removed and go back to fusion. You just can’t go from fusion to something else.”

Tracy Robb said it was shocking to see the before and after X-rays of Jessica’s spine after her Nov. 2, 2017, surgery.

“We were all in tears,” her mom said. “We could not believe that it could correct it that much. We were not expecting that because hers was so rigid because she had it so long.”

An X-ray of Jessica Robb after her ApiFix surgery shows the new rod in place with just four screws. The alternative was to have fusion rods, which require upwards of 20 screws to stay in place. (Submitted by the Robb family)

Jessica says she also no longer relies on puffers to help her breathing. Best of all, she never has to wear her brace again.

“I have no more pain anymore, which is really nice.”

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