Monday, September 6, 2010

2 High-Tech Procedures for Back Pain, Spinal Injuries Improve Results

Two high-tech back procedures can relieve pain and restore range of motion in the neck or back with much shorter recovery times than are possible with traditional procedures.

Dr. Kenneth Light of San Francisco is known as the "Doctor of Last Resort" for helping people with back problems & chronic pain, and for fixing procedures that have been unsuccessful. He says that two procedures are revolutionizing back treatment:

1. The "X-LIF" System For Minimally-Invasive Back Surgery helps patients with spinal disc degeneration & other back problems.

2. “Pro-Disc” Artificial disc replacement can fix complicated back problems without resorting to a spinal fusion.

Nearly 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain during their lifetime. Most commonly, back pain is caused by muscle strain, but it can also be attributed to a variety of traumatic and degenerative conditions, including:

Spinal stenosis
Bone fractures
Degenerative disc disease (DDD)

For most, back pain is only a temporary problem that can be alleviated with conservative (non-surgical) treatment such as rest, medication, physical therapy, spinal injections and the use of orthotics. Patients suffering from chronic back pain that does not improve with conservative (non-surgical) treatment may require surgery.

> The lower back surgery technique, called Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion, or “X-LIF” is a possible surgical alternative for sufferers of back injuries, painful scoliosis and degenerated spinal disc.

XLIF involves a small incision in the patient's side over the hurt disc. X-rays guide tubes down to the spine using special tools to avoid muscle and tissue damage. They're locked into place with a flexible arm so the doctor can fuse the spine. (Conventional surgery requires a 12-inch incision.)

Aside from getting rid of the pain and recovering quickly, the XLIF has other benefits compared to the traditional open back surgery known as standard lumbar fusion. There is less blood loss, the incision is shorter, the operation is quick and the fusion of the spinal disc is better.

With standard back surgery, it can take six months to a year to fully recover. But this new technique cuts that down to six to eight weeks.

Dr. Light says "XLIF has opened up the ability for me to do complex spinal surgery in a minimally invasive manner. It means the world for patients to be able to recover in the shortest possible time and return to normal activities."

> Pro-Disc Replacement: In the past, the only course of treatment for people with certain back injuries including those caused by work-related injuries has been a spinal fusion procedure, which is done to stabilize the spine and to prevent further damage to the injured area. However, spinal fusion has several disadvantages including a variable loss of range of movement in the treated areas and, in many cases, recurring pain and further damage to the spine.

Now there is a better approach - total disc replacement using a device called the “ProDisc-L Implant,” says Dr. Light, “Artificial disc replacement is an attempt to fix complicated back problems without resorting to a spinal fusion.” The implant has been designed to maintain the physiological range of motion in the spine An added benefit is shortened recovery time for most patients. “I believe that artificial disc replacement will eventually replace 70% to 80% of all spinal fusion surgeries," says Dr. Light Most patients experience little downtime after the procedure and can often return to most regular activities in a matter of days.

Dr. Light's website:

Dr. Kenneth Light was director of the spine clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, and was founder and medical director of the San Francisco Spine Center at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, is board certified with the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at University of California, San Francisco.

He is currently in private practice in San Francisco where he specializes in reconstructive surgery in patients who have had failed back surgery.


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