Floyd Ross knew he had to do something about his lower back pain. It was limiting his pursuits and getting in the way of his retirement, volunteer activities and golf. Besides that, he recently married and wanted to be able to enjoy life with his new bride.
“The pain was so bad, I had to do something, but I also knew I didn’t want to undergo traditional open-back spine surgery that can take six months for recovery. I’m 86. I don’t want to waste that much time,” Ross says.
Instead Ross sought the help of William Taylor, M.D., a UCSD Healthcare neurosurgeon, and underwent a new minimally invasive treatment for chronic back pain at UCSD Medical Center.
“We’re doing a few new procedures here. The one Mr. Ross had, MaXcess Transformal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) goes through the back but uses a smaller incision than traditional back surgery and causes minimal disruption to the muscle tissue surrounding the spine,” Taylor says. “The other procedure, Extreme Lateral Interbody Infusion (XLIF), unlike traditional back surgery, accesses the spine through the patient’s side, which avoids disrupting major back muscles and tissues. In both surgeries, patients resume walking in a few days, with a typical four-six week recovery. The procedures are safe, effective and much less invasive.”
An estimated 10 million adults annually suffer from chronic back pain, a condition that can limit activities. Most choose traditional back surgery but now patients have new options.
Surgeons such as Taylor decide upon which procedure to use based on the patient’s case and needs. Taylor likes to use XLIF when appropriate because the novel side approach to the disc and lumbar vertebral bodies allows more direct access to the spine without causing trauma to surrounding structures.
Both the XLIF and MaXcess TLIF procedures engage sensors that alerts Taylor if his probe is approaching one of the nerves running through the muscle, so he can steer around it. Additionally with these new procedures, the incisions are much smaller than those in traditional back surgeries. Taylor accesses the spine through two one-inch incisions compared to the five-inch incisions necessary with traditional open back surgery. This results in minimal tissue disruption and shorter hospital stays and recovery time. Patients spend only one night in the hospital compared to the five nights typical of traditional back surgery patients.
Although there is no restriction as to age, gender or prior surgical history, Taylor advises some patients may not be appropriate for the surgery. He suggests interested patients schedule an appointment to discuss individual cases.
Ross has no regrets he took the new minimally invasive route. He was back on his feet in days, pain-free. Although he hasn’t hit the greens yet, he plans to give his golf clubs a workout soon.
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