The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) has been named a centre of excellence for one of its Surgeon’s practice in keyhole spinal surgery – known as Fully Endoscopic Spine Surgery (FESS).

 Mr Birender Balain, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Oswestry-based hospital, has been involved in this kind of minimally invasive complex spinal surgery since 2017.

FESS is an advanced, state-of-the-art form of minimally invasive spinal surgery designed to provide much quicker recovery times and less recurring pain than traditional spinal surgery methods for patients.

This kind of surgery allows for the same operation and technique to be used as in open surgery, but done through a single and small keyhole incision, whereas in open surgery the incision can vary from 4cm to 8cm in length.

RJAH was the first NHS hospital in the country to practice this latest generation of endoscopic spine surgery.

Mr Balain and RJAH were presented with the Centre of Excellence Award by RIWOspine – who make the innovative endoscopic equipment, used by Mr Balain in the hospital’s Theatres.

On receiving the award, Mr Balain said: “It’s fantastic that the Trust has been recognised in this way for this pioneering work. Having been involved in this type of surgery for four years, I feel extremely proud.

“I think Fully Endoscopic Spine Surgery will be the way forward for all common spine surgeries, and in the coming years, new Surgeons will be trained in these techniques as there are huge benefits to patients, such as much speedier recovery times, as well as less post-operative discomfort and pain.”

Other benefits of this type of surgery include the small incision means less trauma to skin, muscle, and soft tissues, resulting in less blood loss. Furthermore, most FESS procedures can be completed in about one hour, allowing the patient to be back on their feet within a few hours following post-operative recovery.

Dr Andy Singh, Head of RIWOspine UK, said: “It gives me great pleasure to award Mr Balain and RJAH, with our Centre of Excellence Award.

“The award is in recognition of Mr Balain and the amazing work he has been doing, and continues to do, at RJAH making it a distinguished Global Centre of Excellence for Full Endoscopic Spine Surgery.

“Mr Balain and RJAH will be joining only a handful of centres around the world to receive such high recognition.”

In recent years, the League of Friends to RJAH have purchased state-of-the-art endoscopic surgical equipment, in a bid to support the Trust in carrying out this kind of surgery.

Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive at RJAH, added: “It’s fantastic that the Trust has been named as a centre of excellence for Mr Balain and the team’s practice in Fully Endoscopic Spine Surgery. What a truly fantastic achievement.

“It’s making a great deal of difference to our patients, as this surgery results in a much speedier recovery time.

“Congratulations to Mr Balain and his team. I’d also like to thank the team at RIWOspine for this wonderful recognition.

“Thanks must also go to our generous and supportive League of Friends for supporting this piece of work, through purchasing this kit, enabling us to be able to carry out this procedure.”

Pictured: Back, from left, Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director; Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive at RJAH; and Mr David Charles Jaffray, Consultant Spinal Surgeon. Front, from left, Peter David, League of Friends Chairman; and Mr Mr Birender Balain, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon.