Spinal surgery performed on conscious Lethbridge man

A Lethbridge man who suffered from terrible back pain for more than four decades is believed to be the first patient in Canada to undergo spinal surgery while conscious.

Surgeon Dr. Michael Yang says he performed Todd Bene’s procedure in February at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary with a local anesthetic only.

According to Alberta Health Services, general anesthesia can result in nausea and other complications that typically require patients to stay in hospital for a few days. Remarkably, after only four hours following his surgery Bene was on his way home.

Dr. Yang explained the process of the surgery, “This is really a collaboration with our anesthesiology colleagues and be able to do this operation in awake patients that we reduce the stress of the anesthesia on the patient and be able to do the surgery in a very minimally invasive way. Just a two centimeter incision and be able to target that disc pathology and get that out to cause- give him relief after his operation.”

“I get up in the morning, I cook my grandkids breakfast and everything else. It got to where I couldn’t even do that anymore. Just the pain was too much. Without that pain, it’s just tremendous how much difference it is,” says Bene.

Dr. Yang says fully awake surgery means eligible patients are able to recover faster, go home sooner and have less risk of post-op complications.

Micah Quinn

After graduating from Mount Royal University in Calgary with a Broadcasting Diploma, Micah made the trek down to Lethbridge to work for Bridge City News. He has previously worked at City TV Calgary on the Breakfast Television morning show. He looks forward to connecting with this community, and reaching a new audience. Micah has a passion for interviewing and finding out why people think the way they do. You’ll often find him pursuing local feature stories and hard news.

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