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21 January 2019 Posted by 


First surgeon to implant spacers
MARC Coughlan is the first surgeon in Australia to implant artificial spacers into the spine.

The neurosurgeon has been living on the Central Coast and operating at Gosford Private Hospital since 2005, providing a range of critical services to patients without the need for them to travel to Newcastle or Sydney.

Dr Coughlan specialises in minimally invasive spinal procedures, including using a new technique called ‘lateral access surgery’, which involves going through a keyhole in the side of the body and placing an artificial 3D printed spacer or a generic spacer in the space between the vertebrae of the spine.

The technology allows for tailored implants which cater for the unique anatomy of each individual patient.

“The 3D implants are fantastic for patients with severe scoliosis where the whole spine is rotated,” Dr Coughlan said.

“The implants sit on the hard outer periphery of the vertebrae, so are also ideal for elderly osteoporotic patients.

“Using the lateral access technique to place the implants allows multiple levels of the spine to be accessed through the same keyhole, creating minimal disruption and thus it very quick recoveries.

“We are fortunate at Gosford Private Hospital to also have a CT navigation system, BodyTom, which can be used throughout the surgery and allows visualisation in all three planes, ensuring the implants are perfectly placed and positioned without the need to use Xray.

“The use of these procedures has massively reduced the recovery with complex spinal patients, and allows us to operate on more frail osteoporotic patients.”

As part of a dedicated team of Neurosurgeons treating patients on the Central Coast over the past 13 years, Dr Coughlan has helped to introduce a number of procedures including minimally invasive lumbar decompression, spinal fusion techniques using lateral and anterior access, and disc replacement surgery to treat chronic lower back pain.

“We’re proud to be leading the way in the provision of high end, innovative neurosurgical procedures for patients here on the Central Coast,” Gosford Private Hospital CEO Matt Kelly said.

“Our team of specialist neurosurgeons and experienced staff at Gosford Private are second to none, providing world class services locally and allowing patients to remain close to home and their family.”



Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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