By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Nineteen-year-old Katie Kingston suffered with back pain for seven years. When it caused her to walk with a limp, the teenager from Loveland consulted an orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

He repaired her broken spine with the help of a robot. Now, Katie is walking tall and feeling terrific.

“Hoping to start nursing school in January,” Katie told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Katie is finally pain free after seven years of suffering that started at gymnastics.

“I was at practice one day and fell off the vault on my back and just was in instant pain and couldn’t get up for 30 minutes,” Katie explained.

She said a doctor told her it was a sprain, but her back hurt on and off for years. She gave up athletics. Then a year ago, the pain got worse.

(credit: Children’s Hospital Colorado)

“It just got to the point where I had really bad nerve pain down my right leg and started walking with a limp,” said Katie.

Katie’s injury was more serious than a sprain.

“There’s a stress fracture in her spine,” said Dr. Mark Erickson, orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who specializes in pediatric spine surgery.

He would realign the bones and add a graft. The doctor would get help from a robot.

(credit: Children’s Hospital Colorado)

“It’s a new frontier that’s super exciting,” said Dr. Erickson.

Using sophisticated software, doctors scan and plan in the operating room, then program the robotic arm where to drill to place screws in the spine.

“With the robot, we’re able to do the surgeries that we’ve done for a long time, but now we’re able to do them with more precision, accuracy and safety,” said Erickson.

“As soon as I woke up from surgery, the nerve pain was gone,” said Katie.

Katie has 2 rods and 4 screws in her back. Her surgery was Dr. Erickson’s 100th robot-assisted pediatric spine surgery. It was Katie’s cure.

(credit: Children’s Hospital Colorado)

“I feel like I can finally get on with life,” said Katie.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of only three pediatric hospitals in the country with access to this robotic technology called Mazor X.

Kathy Walsh

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