Spinal News International Feature on Dr. Ciaran Bolger, PediGuard’s co-Inventor
Image republished with permission from Spinal News International
We were thrilled to see that the recent Spinal News International edition released during SPINEWEEK 2012 included a fascinating feature on Dr. Ciaran Bolger: immediate past-President of Eurospine, professor of Clinical Neuroscience, neurosurgeon, pilot and astronaut. He also happens to be co-inventor of the award-winning PediGuard technology. Below are a few snippits from the feature – we invite you to read the full article at Spinal News International here.
Republished with permission from Spinal News International:
Of the spinal surgery products you have been involved in developing, which product are you most proud of and why?
Each of the products I have been involved in developing have a special place and memory for me because of the achievement and the work that went into them, and I am really proud of all of them.
The one that has been most successful and the one that I am most proud of is the PediGuard (SpineGuard) device, which detects perforation in bone when implanting pedicle screws. I developed this with Mr Maurice Bourlion and Mr Alain Vanquaethem, two engineers who were really responsible for most of the technological achievements. I am proud of it because it took an enormous amount of effort and development in terms of prototypes and overcoming technical problems and trials of different versions. After all of the setbacks and work involved, it was tremendous to finally develop a useful and commercially viable device that is growing exponentially in popularity. I am also proud of it because it is a product that is directly aimed at improving the lives of surgeons and patients, and it is a device that is directly related to the safety of patients.
What are the three spinal surgery questions that need answering?
- While we know that most degenerative diseases and low back pain can be explained by genetic factors, I would like to see a better understanding of what exactly the environmental triggers are in association with these genetic factors.
- I would like to see a treatment, which I do not think at the end of the day would probably be surgical, for intramedullary spinal cord tumours, particularly astrocytomas. These are very difficult tumours to treat and they are usually not completely excised with surgery. I would like to see some development, perhaps of immunotherapy or chemotherapy, which would help us deal with these particular tumours that are devastating for the patients and their families.
- What is the best treatment for low back pain? This is a question that still perplexes us and one that we still do not have the full answer to.
What recent spinal paper have you found the most interesting and why?
The recent papers I have found most interesting really are a series of papers from the SPORT (Spinal Patients Outcome Research Trial) group. While that particular study has come in for a lot of criticism, it has produced a lot of very interesting data in relation to the management of patients, particularly with spinal stenosis. The most interesting feature to emerge recently is the fact that decompression of the canal contents can, in fact, produce an improvement in back pain itself, which is something that we preached for a long time was not the case.
What are your hobbies outside of medicine?
Outside of medicine my major interest is in flying. I fly a twin-engine Beech Baron Pressurised Airplane. It is a beautiful aeroplane, which allows me to fly at 25,000 feet around Europe above the weather and gets me from place to place particularly for all the different European meetings that I attend. It was very useful during my year as president at Eurospine.
I have an interest in space travel and technology, and I was in fact the official Irish astronaut to the European Space Agency in the early 90s. Although I never got to actually fly in space, I did get to do the full selection process that involved G-Force testing in a centrifuge with lots of interesting experiences related to that.
Unfortunately, as I say, I never got to go into space and I think I am past the stage where I would be a reasonable candidate now—although the experience of John Glenn [who went into space aged 77] in the USA gives me hope that maybe by the time I am 70, it will be something I can return to!
To read the full article, click here.