Mrs Susan Bartholomew - Wellex™ spinal implant

Regarding herself as ‘generally fit and healthy’ Susan Bartholomew enjoyed walking her dogs in the countryside surrounding her Ongar home. So when she started to develop back pain, she had no idea of the journey ahead of her.

After just two days Susan
was walking well

While on holiday in the Caribbean in September 2008, Susan developed an extreme pain in her foot while walking. At first she thought she may have trodden on broken glass, or even been stung or bitten by an insect. On inspection of her foot, there was no mark evident, and to her mind no real reason for the immense pain.

This development quickly spoiled the ‘holiday of a lifetime’, as she had to lay down for long periods and found it extremely difficult to sit at the table during dinner. She recalls that, “I would pray that people wouldn’t order dessert, as the pain from sitting at the table was too much to handle.”

After managing to fly home, the pain was not subsiding. In the fear that this was now serious, she went to her GP and was referred to a pain specialist.  After treatment with pain injections, the foot pain vanished, but the back pain remained. This meant that Susan was unable to shop, sit at the dining table, or even iron – everyday tasks.

Still in a lot of pain with her back and after three injections that she felt did not work, Susan read a news article on spinal implants procedure, and their availability in the UK. She sought advice from her GP, not knowing that the surgery was available right on her doorstep – in Essex. After her GP appointment, she returned home to Google ‘spinal implant’ and saw the Spire Hartswood hospital profile of Mr Alagappan Sivaraman, consultant spinal surgeon.

With the injections not relieving the back pain, surgery became the next option. Susan made use of her private medical insurance, and was encouraged by the availability of spinal surgery so close to her home. It was important for her to be close to friends and relatives should she need their support. After a consultation with Mr Sivaraman, with whom she was very impressed, Susan gained support from her husband, who was apprehensive towards surgery, but understood the pain that she was in. Her decision to have surgery was influenced by the fact that a colleague had waited over a year for their treatment. Susan decided to go for it.

Surgery took approximately one hour, and Susan remained in Spire Hartswood Hospital for two nights. After initially taking it easy, she began to live a normal live, very quickly. After just two days she was walking well. Within a week she was out and about, shopping and enjoying coffee with friends. After two weeks she was driving.

Susan is now able to walk her beloved dogs again, while also enjoying activities such as swimming, keep fit, Pilates and even the Wii fit.

The spinal surgeon's view

Susan Bartholomew was one of the first patients at Spire Hartswood Hospital to benefit from the Wellex™ spinal implant. Her consultant spinal surgeon, Mr Alagappan Sivaraman, explains more about this treatment:

"The Wellex™ was developed by Dr. Jean-Marc Fuentes from France and is manufactured by a company called Eden Spine ( It is based on over ten years of clinical experience with similar interspinous devices. The Wellex™ implant is designed to provide pain relief and mobility to patients suffering from spinal stenosis who have not been helped by injection treatment, physical therapy or medication. It offers an alternative to major spinal fusion surgery. It may also be suitable for patients with a herniated disc or sagittal imbalance. Wellex™ surgery is minimally invasive, with reduced operative time and no removal of bony and soft tissue. I am delighted to be able to offer this to my patients at Spire Hartswood Hospital."

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Mr Alagappan Sivaraman

Read Mr Sivaraman's consultant profile

Mr Sivaraman consults at Spire Hartswood Hospital on Monday mornings and Friday evenings.

How to arrange a consultation

If you are paying for your own treatment, you don't need a GP referral letter. Simply call our Treatment Enquiry Adviser on 01277 266 761 if you would like to make an appointment, would like more information or guide prices for treatment.

Share your experiences

Susan Bartholomew is willing to talk to other Spire Hartswood patients who are considering a spinal implant procedure. This can be arranged by calling the Treatment Enquiry line on 01277 266 761 or if you wish to share your experience of Spire Hartswood Hospital simply email us at

Wellex™ spinal implant

Wellex spinal implant

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