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High-Tech Equipment Helps Spinal Surgeries

April 3, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

High-Tech Equipment Helps Spinal Surgeries
CHESTER, SD -

You can imagine a teenager's fear when being told he'll have to have surgery or be in a wheelchair by the time he's 40. Thanks to a new high-tech imaging system, a Chester teenager's spinal surgery went even smoother than usual.

The Dossett family is a very active family, to say the least. Not only do the brothers enjoy shooting hoops, they also tee off with their dad almost every day in the summer.

"Golf, since we live by the golf course, is one of my favorite sports to play," Austin Dossett said.

This time of the year, sophomore Austin fills his time with school and both golf and track practices, which are things he didn't think would be possible earlier this year.

"We could kind of tell during the summer that something was not quite right. The shoulders were a little uneven, the curve in the spine," Austin's mother Kim Dossett said.

Doctors and nurses never diagnosed Austin with scoliosis during school physicals.  But his parents decided to have it looked into. In August, doctors determined Austin did, indeed, have scoliosis and it was severe. The active teen was told he'd probably be in a wheelchair by the time he was 40 if nothing was done.

"It was kind of a freaky thing. I was wondering if I was ever going to be able to play sports again because sports are a pretty huge part of my life," Austin said.

Austin's case was too far along for a brace.  So, he decided to go ahead with surgery. Fortunately, Sanford now has a high-tech imaging system for spinal procedures, called an O-Arm.

"It takes three-dimensional pictures of the patient's spine while the patient is on the operating table. That allows us to, within a millimeter, place screws and other instruments with absolute certainty where we're placing them," Sanford Dr. Geoffrey Haft said.

Haft says most importantly, the $1 million piece of technology increases safety. He also says surgeries can be done more quickly, cutting an hour to an hour-and-a-half off a five-hour operation.

"It's what I think is the most technology advanced piece of equipment that we have in this world today; way better than an iPhone," Haft said.

And partly thanks to the technology, Austin's surgery went smoothly. Less than five months after the operation, he's back competing on the track and on the course.

"It's amazing how it can go from what he had to just perfectly straight, and then he can be back in sports. That's what we were really surprised about, being back in contact sports like football," Kim said.

"It's fun to compete and see how I can do after everything that's going on," Austin said.

The O-Arm is one of several high-tech systems Children's Miracle Network has helped buy.

You can hear more about how CMN has helped the community first-hand, during this year's CMN Special.  The hour-long broadcast will air Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. on KELO TV.

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