A Colorado doctor has cured a teenage athlete’s chronic pain with help from a robot surgeon. Nineteen-year-old Katie Kingston had experienced constant back pain since a gymnastics mishap years ago. Now, she’s back in action thanks to some cutting-edge medical technology.
From Tragedy to Technology
Kingston’s pain began seven years ago with a bad fall during gymnastics practice.
“I was at practice one day and fell off the vault on my back and just was in instant pain and couldn’t get up for 30 minutes,” Kingston told CBS 4 in Denver.
When she had a doctor examine her injury, they told her it was a simple sprain. However, the pain continued off and on for the next seven years. It got so bad that the athletically-inclined teen gave up sports.
By 2019, the pain had worsened and spread to other parts of her body.
“It just got to the point where I had a really bad nerve pain down my right leg and started walking with a limp,” Kingston said.
In more pain than ever, the teen decided to consult an orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Colorado. There, Dr. Mark Erickson was able to determine the true cause of Kingston’s troubles: a stress fracture in her spine.
Dr. Erickson devised a plan to operate on Kingston’s spine with the help of a Mazor X surgery robot. According to CBS 4, Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of just three pediatric hospitals in the US with access to such a robot.
For the surgery, Erickson used the robot to scan Kingston’s spine and determine where to drill holes and place screws. Once this was done, the robot’s arm performed precision drilling into the chosen spots.
“With the robot, we’re able to do the surgeries that we’ve done for a long time, but now we’re able to do them with more precision, accuracy and safety,” Dr. Erickson said.
During the operation, Erickson and the robot surgeon placed two rods and four screws in Kingston’s spine. The results were immediate and astounding.
“As soon as I woke up from surgery, the nerve pain was gone,” said Kingston.
With her chronic pain finally resolved, Kingston is now beginning a new chapter.
“I feel like I can finally get on with life,” said the teen, who now plans to begin nursing school in January.