Patients suffering from chronic back pain, caused by arthritis of the spine or degenerative disc disease, may benefit from an updated procedure performed at Memorial Medical Center-Livingston.
The newer titanium Aspen Spinous Process Fixation System can provide long-lasting relief for those suffering from degenerative disc disease, while allowing surgeons to easily access the spine years later, if necessary.
The minimally invasive procedure opens up a small space in the spine to allow the nerve to more freely move. Often times, patients who suffer from arthritis in the spine or degenerative disc disease develop bone calcifications, which can encroach on the nerve space between the vertebras and cause intense pressure on the nerve.
The Aspen Spinous Process Fixation System attaches to either side of the spine and provides rigid fixation while bone grows, fusing the vertebrae together. After the procedure, Orthopedic Surgeon George L. DeLoach, DO, who performs the minimally invasive surgery, said patients can become more mobile and have a higher quality of life.
“This is not an incredibly common procedure, but if we can find the right patient suffering from degenerative disc disease, they are incredibly appreciative to finally get some relief,” Dr. DeLoach said.
The device is inserted through a small hole in the back during an inpatient procedure that lasts about 45 minutes.
Certain criteria must be met before a patient qualifies for the procedure. Dr. DeLoach said patients must show symptoms and be diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, which can only be present in one or two discs. Dr. DeLoach said many of his patients are 55 years or older.
Symptoms include dull or aching pain that spreads from the baNew procedure at Memorial Medical Center-Livingston provides long-lasting relief for chronic back pain sufferersNew procedure at Memorial Medical Center-Livingston provides long-lasting relief for chronic back pain sufferersck to the buttocks and continues to radiate down the legs; numbness or tingling in the buttocks and/or legs; pain heightened by standing or walking for an extended period of time; and overall weakness or decrease in stamina. Many of these symptoms can be temporarily alleviated by sitting, leaning forward, reclining or rest.
If pain relieving medications and steroid injections cease to provide relief from the pain, Dr. DeLoach said this may be an intermediary step before patients contemplate major back surgery.
“This device was developed as an adjunct for other procedures, but what they found was a lot of people didn’t require a major surgery to stabilize the spine after having the Aspen device surgically implanted,” Dr. DeLoach said. “You can now open up that space for the nerve to move. It’s just a millimeter or two, but it makes all the difference for those suffering from chronic lower back pain.”
Because of the minimal affects of the Aspen device on the spine and surrounding tissue, patients needing additional surgery in the future can do so with ease. According to Dr. DeLoach, it is important that devices, such as the Aspen Spinous Process Fixation System, do not interfere with more extensive surgeries that may be necessary later on.
For more information about the Aspen device and procedure, contact Dr. DeLoach at 936-327-9222.
Cutline: Orthopedic Surgeon George L. DeLoach, DO displays the Aspen Spinous Process Fixation System in his Livingston office. The inpatient procedure is minimally invasive and can alleviate pressure on the nerves in the spine.