New device to treat spinal stenosis offered at UCLA

Back pain is a huge problem. If you look at the statistics, it affects 90% of the population in the world at some point in their lifetime. It’s a huge problem, not just in our country, but worldwide. There are other diseases, they get a lot more press, you see them on the news because they are more dramatic, but back pain by and large affects almost every American and everyone throughout the world. There are many causes of back pain. One of the most common causes is arthritis in the discs and arthritis in the facet joints, and this is the spinal column right in here. There’s pressure on the nerves that is a part of the spinal anatomy, and it’s actually the joint between each spinal segment. So when there’s motion, this joint moves. When it becomes diseased, motion and that facet can cause pain. But instead of doing a traditional fusion or you put bone graft material in there, we put screws with rigid rods, and it mobilizes the segment for forever. We are trying to preserve motion of that segment. This is a representation of a traditional fusion. There is a solid rod on each side, connected from a screw from one segment to the next, and I don’t know if you can appreciate it, but when we move the spine, there’s absolutely no motion at this segment because it’s fused, and that could be a problem because it may put more stress at the level above and at the level below. This is an example of the new device. This is the facet replacement. The facets are the joints between the different segments, and this is a normal facet. This is a normal facet, and this is actually a recreation of the normal facet, and as you move the spine, you can see that there’s still motion there, so this replacement of the facet has recreated the anatomical alignment of the normal facet joint, which allows for normal motion of the spine so the spine can still move. There is preservation of the motion, and it does not put additional stress at the level above or the level below, but we’re replacing these facet joints rather than fusing them. When we fuse them, we stop the motion, which is not natural for the spine. This new device, we’re preserving motion, so that the patient can go back to their normal activities, and with the preservation of the motion, there won’t be additional stress at the level above and below. We’re right on the cusp of this type of technology. There are very few devices out there that serve this purpose. We need to explore it. It has a huge potential, and that’s why we’re doing this study. And the most important thing is you want to make sure that you’re the appropriate patient. You want to do the right surgery for that patient’s condition. It’s important to talk to your physician, understand your condition, and see if you’re the appropriate patient. This could be a very exciting time, and I’m very hopeful that this will be a better solution than a lot of the current treatment options that we have.

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