In 2020 the ACCISS Directorate collaborated on a case that highlights the true potential of ACCISS and its approach to complex patient specific care.

Picture of Adam Frankel and Keri Frecklington
Adam Frankel shows Keri Frecklington the 3D model of her spine produced for the surgeon’s reference prior to her operation. CREDIT:STUART LAYT

The Case

A forty year old former elite triathlete presented ten years after a serious road accident that, had left them with a titanium cage for vertebral replacement and a spinal stabilisation implant.

The spinal implant had begun to erode and consequently caused a hole in the adjacent oesophagus. As a result anything the patient swallowed leaked into their spinal column as well as their neck which caused her massive infection.

The patient was a facing a life of profound disability including the real prospect of needing to be permanently tube fed and losing her ability to ever speak or swallow again.

The Solution

Dr Adam Frankel, an upper gastrointestinal surgeon with the PA Hospital, rapidly organised a team of specialists via the Australian Centre for Complex Integrated Surgical Solutions, which was set up to deal with complex multi-disciplinary cases such as this.

The patient’s surgery was multifaceted and required input from 5 different specialities from the ACCISS Directorate.

They did imaging of her affected spinal area, created 3D-printed models to study, developed new implants to replace the old ones, and made meticulous plans for what would prove to be a marathon surgery.

The patient also had their spine and metal implants segmented by the ACCISS engineer.

The Outcome

The surgery was a huge success. The expertise of the ACCISS team allowed them to preserve the patient’s voice and swallow reflex and have allowed them to continue living a normal life.

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