Orthopedic surgeon Nitin Khanna, MD, who has used cutting-edge technology to treat the back pain of patients at Franciscan Health Dyer, has been recognized with several patient care awards for 2020.

The awards from Vitals, a New Jersey-based healthcare database company, included the Compassionate Doctor Award, the On-Time Doctor Award and the Patients’ Choice Award. He also is a five-year honoree for Compassionate Doctor Award and Patients’ Choice Award.  The awards, based on patient reviews and ratings, resulted in Dr. Khanna being rated in the top 1 percent of America’s Most Honored Doctors.

Dr. Khanna, an independent physician who chooses to practice at Franciscan Health, said the awards were an honor that reinforced his commitment to patient-first care. “Treating patients as family members has always been a guiding force in my approach,” he added.

The technology at Franciscan Health Dyer’s advanced spine program includes the use of the O-arm surgical imaging system that provides real-time, three-dimensional images that register to the instruments used during spine surgery. The integration of CT-guided navigation allows minimally invasive procedures and decreased recovery times, even in complex spine cases. Utilizing these techniques, Dr. Khanna had zero infections in 236 spine surgeries performed during 2020.

He is now looking to become one of the first surgeons in the state to incorporate augmented reality into spine surgery. Augmented reality allows images to be visualized through a headset while the surgeon is looking at the spine directly.

Dr. Khanna points to advances that provide alternatives to fusion surgery for the cervical spine. Historically, many patients in need of neck surgery for neck pain, degenerative disc disease or herniated discs were only given the option of a large plate and cage to add stability to the spine. Replacing the injured disc with a metal and plastic disc reduces the long-term drawbacks of fusion surgery, which can result in breakdown of areas in the spine, he said.

“We have come a long way with minimally invasive spine surgery, disc replacement and safe spine surgery at Franciscan Health Dyer,” Dr. Khanna said.

He notes that the spine program at Franciscan Health Dyer depends on skilled staff. “Working together through the years has allowed for an extremely low complication rate. This can only be accomplished with an interdisciplinary team of nursing, anesthesia and surgical techs,” Dr. Khanna said.

In the past year, Dr. Khanna authored publications on a safe return to spine surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also had six papers on minimally invasive spine surgery presented at the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He also participated as an expert co-author of a chapter for a textbook on minimally invasive spine surgery. He continues to serve as an associate editor for SPINE.

For more information about how the spine surgery program at Franciscan Health Dyer can help patients get back to enjoying active lives quicker than via traditional rehabilitation, go online at FranciscanHealth.org/health-care-services/spine-surgery.