Although perhaps best known for delivering babies, The Bays Hospital in Mornington is home to a range of acute medical, surgical and intensive care services. One of the hospital’s latest procedures, spinal endoscopic surgery, performed by Spine Surgeon Dr John Choi, uses an innovative technique to treat spinal conditions which traditionally has been performed through open surgical approaches.

Endoscopic spine surgery is a minimally invasive keyhole spine surgery that uses specialised video cameras and instruments to remove a herniated disc or remove bone and other structures that lead to nerve and spinal cord compression through two very small (7mm) incisions in the patient’s back.

The first spinal endoscopic surgery at The Bays was performed on Monday 12 December and was very successful. Dr John Choi said of the technique: “patients have minimal or no pain after the operation on day 1 and can expect to return to their normal activities immediately with little downtime. The technique preserves the normal function of spinal structures.”

Dr Choi’s practice Spine Ortho Clinic is the only surgical group that currently offers biportal spine endoscopy in Australia. He said “The Bays Hospital is going to be a training site for many interstate and international surgeons. Patient should not have to accept big open decompression through a large 6 to 15cm incisions violating their normal spine tissues anymore.”

Dr Choi specialises in minimally invasive spinal surgeries and has operated on more than 3000 spine patients in Victoria. He is regarded as a leading innovator and educator of spine surgery internationally. He is the upcoming president of SMISS (Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery) annual meeting at Spineweek 2023 in Melbourne and serves as a board member of AO SPINE ANZ Council. He has trained over 15 international and local surgeons through his spine fellowship and published several papers in the field of Robotics spine surgery and disc replacements among other research interests.

Quote attributable to The Bays Healthcare Group CEO, Jade Phelan:

“To be able to use this technique here at The Bays, our theatre staff received specialised training and new equipment was purchased.  Endoscopic spinal surgeries are only available at some hospitals in Victoria, so we are very proud to add this to our ever-growing list of procedures performed at The Bays.

“Despite restrictions on elective surgery during the pandemic, we’ve seen a growth in complex surgeries in recent years. With a growing local population, we’re focused on meeting our community’s health needs. We will continue to expand and improve our services without sacrificing the gold standard of care we’re so well known for.”