Trident Health System February 25, 2019

North Charleston, SC  – Ninety-one-year-old Julia Tourtellotte had one wish before she underwent minimally invasive robotic spine surgery at Trident Medical Center.  “I wanted to be able to dance with my doctor when I recovered.”  Her wish came true.  Before a group of well-wishers, friends and hospital staff Julia and her physician, Neurosurgeon Sabino DAgostino, MD clogged, smiled and hugged in a post-recovery celebration dance.

Julia began dancing at the age of 49. For the Syracuse, New York native it became a lifelong affair that took her to dancing competitions across the country.  A few years ago she moved to Summerville, South Carolina and continued dancing and teaching classes.

“A few years ago I started feeling pain in my legs,” said Julia.  She underwent a series of treatments that worked temporarily, but didn’t provide long-term relief.  With time she knew she needed to talk to her doctor about other options.

“I talked with Ms. Tourtellotte about Trident Medical Center’s new minimally invasive robotic spine technology,” explained Dr. DAgostino. “They were the first in the South Carolina Lowcountry to have the technology and I had the opportunity to perform the first procedure at Trident using it.”

“Many spine surgeries require screws or other devices to help in healing.  Alignment of the spine, discs and vertebrae is extremely important.  The new minimally invasive robotic surgery we perform at Trident Medical Center helps increase patient safety and accuracy in the operating room.”

The technology improves visualization of the patient’s anatomy throughout the procedure to help optimize patient treatment. The system is designed to streamline surgical workflow and reduce overall radiation exposure to surgeons and staff.

Dr. D’Agostino said, “For patients the technology can help in several important areas such as shorter time in surgery; reduced blood loss; less muscle damage; and can result in faster recovery.”

Minimally invasive robotic spine surgery at Trident Medical Center is appropriate for candidates with lower back, lumbar, disease or injury where the surgical approach is from the back side.  “Minimally invasive surgery is a category of spine surgery that has evolved.  The new minimally invasive robotic spine surgery at the Trident Medical Center is done with a level of precision and surgical interaction that is unprecedented,” explained Dr. D’Agostino.

Julia said, “As soon as I woke up from recovery I didn’t feel any pain in my legs and I haven’t felt any since then.”  During her three-month recovery she’s practice dance steps with her feet while she was sitting.  And, the day she was cleared to resume her normal activities she danced.  “I still teach clogging classes at a senior center.  I love it and am so happy I can still dance.”