By: 14 June 2022
Specialist spinal service receives Centre of Excellence award

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust has received Centre of Excellence status after delivering outstanding fully endoscopic spinal surgery to patients in Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales.

The award, given by RIWOspine, the manufacturers of the innovative fully endoscopic equipment, comes after the Trust’s charity funded the project in 2020. Gaining Centre of Excellence is a gold standard, making the hospital one of only a handful to achieve the status.

Consultant Spinal Surgeon Mr Narendra Rath, one of few surgeons in the country who can perform this type of surgery, said: “I am delighted and so proud of the team here at The Walton Centre. It’s been an extraordinary two years, but the team has worked hard to bring this service to patients who need it.

“Fully endoscopic spinal surgery has provided us with skills to tackle spinal problems in various ways and it is not only about discectomy procedures. Being keyhole, the procedure causes minimal tissue damage and can improve patient rehabilitation. It’s a pioneering branch of spinal surgery, practiced in only few centres across the world, and has a potential to transform future spinal surgery.”

“Everyone has come together, staff, the charity, our patients and their families to make this service a reality and I can’t thank them enough.”

The procedure is used to treat spinal conditions such as sciatica due to disc bulges and spinal stenosis, along with other ever evolving newer surgical indications. As part of the recovery process for some of the procedures, patients can be up and walking around merely hours after the surgery. In many cases, patients can go home the same day if they have recovered enough.

Patients like 26-year-old Ciaran Rooney from Wirral. He started to have trouble with his back a couple of years ago. Mr Rath operated on Ciaran towards the end of last year [2021] and was able to go home the same day. He said: “Mr Rath assessed and got me in for the operation quickly. Before that I was in an incredible amount of pain, I was limping it was that severe. Hours after the procedure the team got me up and about walking to see the progress I was making. I couldn’t believe it and I feel so lucky to have had the surgery, it’s got me back on my feet – literally!” 

The Walton Centre’s Chief Executive Jan Ross said: “It’s testament to Mr Rath and his hardworking team that the Trust has been awarded Centre of Excellence status. This minimally invasive procedure can mean shorter hospital stays and better recoveries for many patients. I’m proud of the dedication they have displayed and it shows in the fantastic outcomes we’ve seen so far for Walton Centre patients.”

The innovative endoscopic equipment, made by RIWOspine, involves keyhole technology, which allows the Trust to deliver precision spinal procedures. The tools are paired wirelessly with high definition 4K monitors to enable safe procedures with minimal invasion, which may reduce the length of time patients need to recover in hospital. The funding of this technology was made possible thanks to a significant legacy left to The Walton Centre Charity in 2019.

Andy Singh, Head of RIWOspine UK said “We are very pleased to announce this Centre of Excellence award for The Walton Centre. The staff at the hospital have worked closely with us, and their hard work and professionalism has resulted in this award. This latest generation of full endoscopic spine surgery, allowing the interlaminar surgical approach has meant many more patient pathologies have been treatable, where once, these patients required open surgery. The stories of happy patients, such as Daniel, make this all worthwhile”.

Image, from left: Consultant Spinal Surgeon Mr Narendra Rath, CEO Jan Ross and Medical Director Dr Andrew Nicolson.