Pensioner is first in region to undergo shoulder surgery while still awake

Jean Burton with the surgery team

Jean Burton with the surgery team

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A Hartlepool woman has become the first in the North East to undergo a major shoulder operation while still awake.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is the only one in the region and one of just a few nationally to perform shoulder replacement operations to patients without using general anaesthetic.

This helps any patient recover faster after surgery, leave hospital almost straight away and avoid any of the common side effects general anaesthetic causes.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Rajesh Nanda

The process means patients can go home a few hours after their operation.

The pioneering nerve block procedure involves putting patients under local anaesthetic so they are conscious the whole time.

Jean Burton, 84, of Seaton Carew, has various health issues which made her a high risk under general anaesthetic.

Speaking just ten minutes after the surgery, she said: “I have had several operations under general anaesthetic and have been unable to talk or think clearly for at least a day and a half. But this time I feel wonderful. I have just finished in theatre and I feel great, it’s unbelievable. My family were really worried about it because of my health issues, but they had no need.”

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Rajesh Nanda led the operation at the University Hospital of North Tees: “Jean is a high risk patient to perform an operation under general anaesthetic, due to health issues she has with her heart and kidneys. This procedure means we have significantly reduced the risk of any complications.

“But it is not just for high risk patients – this helps any patient recover faster after surgery, leave hospital almost straight away and avoid any of the common side effects general anaesthetic causes such as nausea and vomiting.”

Consultant anaesthetist Saqib Aslam said: “A nerve block means patients stay pain-free during the operation. Doctors are also able to administer a low dose of sedative if needed. We now have the capability and expertise to perform most shoulder surgery procedures under block only.”