Norman Regional Health System

Physician goes over lumbar with patient with back pain.

Friday, March 26, 2021

One man is no longer living with constant back pain due to the help of a robot and local neurosurgeon, Stephen Eichert, DO.

Robert Burnett, 54, began seeing Dr. Eichert at Norman Regional Health System’s Neurosurgery Associates after years of dealing with back pain.

Burnett had lumbar surgery 21 years ago, but his back increasingly got worse throughout the years. He was attending physical therapy when he was referred to Dr. Eichert. Burnett had developed severe pain in his back and legs.

His physical exam with Dr. Eichert was abnormal and showed compression of his nerves, causing weakness in his left ankle.

Burnett told Dr. Eichert he didn’t want another surgery if it was avoidable, but unfortunately it was an urgent situation that needed surgery to decompress the nerves. Based on his imaging, if Burnett didn’t have surgery, he could wake up one day and no longer be able to use his legs.

Although Burnett didn’t want surgery, he said he understood the need and appreciated that Dr. Eichert explained everything that was going to happen in detail, and in a way that he was able to understand.

“His level of being a neurosurgeon and me being someone who works on cars – he fully broke it down for me so I would fully understand,” Burnett said. “Dr. Eichert explains it right then and there. He makes you feel comfortable.”

Dr. Eichert performed a robotic-assisted surgery to remove the hardware that was previously installed in Burnett’s back and robotically insert new instrumentation. With the help of the robot, Dr. Eichert was able to place instrumentation at the level above Burnett’s previous hardware and decompress the nerves causing pain and weakness. He fused Burnett’s spine utilizing his own bone and bone marrow.

Dr. Eichert said doing a repeat spinal surgery where you have to remove hardware is difficult, but the robot helps.

Burnett said Dr. Eichert even arrived early the day of his surgery to talk to him again and help prepare him for surgery.

“Dr. Eichert has a really great bedside manner. He’s excellent. He is very professional and honest, has a good sense of humor, is nice and friendly, and is down to Earth – even when he’s preparing to perform spinal surgery,” Burnett said.

After the surgery, Burnett said his recovery was quicker than he expected. He didn’t need pain pills after the first four days and he was ready to go back to work within two and a half weeks.

Dr. Eichert said less pain and a shorter recovery time are two of the main benefits of robotic surgery. The other big advantage is less blood loss during surgery.

Now, about three months since Burnett had his surgery, he said he’s feeling better than ever. He no longer has any pain or discomfort and is going through physical therapy to help strengthen his legs again.

“I told Dr. Eichert he has the hands of God. I have no pain at all and I’ve never felt so good,” Burnett said. “I’ve been to a lot of doctors, but Dr. Eichert is above and beyond what I expected. If I ever need another surgery, I’d go to him, or if I ever know anyone who needs surgery, I’d refer anyone and everyone to him. You can’t get the care he gives you anywhere else.”

Norman Regional’s neurosurgeons Dr. Eichert and Clay Cochran, MD, perform all types of surgeries on the spine, the brain and the peripheral nervous systems.

Patients can self-refer, but Dr. Eichert recommends patients first see their primary care physician, as they can do the imaging needed and find the root of the problem before treating the patient themselves or referring them to Neurosurgery Associates.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with the clinic, call 405-307-3300.