Smaller Incisions, Better Backs
New minimally invasive lumbar surgery helps patients with troublesome back pain.
It's much easier and a whole lot less painful for Paul Colando to walk these days.
Up until a few months ago his lower back was shot.
"From constant lifting and turning," he said.
Colando had what 3 million Americans suffer from, lumbar stenosis.
"So basically that's kind of narrowing around the nerves in the lower back so typical symptoms of that are trouble walking, trouble with back pain, numbness down the legs," said Dr. Charles Kanaly of Memorial Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
"It's often kind of in the middle where you get some narrowing around where the nerves come down through the lower back and also where the nerves come out on the sides."
Colando was in and out of work.
He underwent physical therapy.
He took pain medications and had regular cortisone injections.
"It would last for four or five months sometimes less and I'd be back in (physical therapy) starting all over," he said.
Until Colando went to see Kanaly and learned about a new less invasive fix for his problems.
"Standard techniques, you'd make an incision in the middle, go down, and then you have to remove a lot of this normal bone and all these joints around the side in order to open up the nerves," Kanaly said.
The new less invasive procedure features a smaller incision and a flexible device.
"And we find a little corridor here, opening between those bones that basically are naturally there and we go down in that area and we're able to use a little probe which is basically like this one here and we slide it down through the hole and rack down along the nerve," Kanaly said.
Using the flexible shaver device, Kanaly opens up the area. He showed Colando the before-and-after images on a scan.
"We were able to slide that little shaver device through that hole that's really tight and this was basically how much space you had in the hole. It was very narrow. After we shaved that open, we were able to get this much opening here, much more space for this nerve to come out," Kanaly said.
The first week after surgery was difficult, but every week after Colando said it got better and better.
And now Colando's doing something he hasn't been able to do in years.
"I'm walking 18 holes now playing golf," he said.