UPI Pain Institute Offers Outpatient Laser Surgery on Herniated Discs
A minimally invasive procedure combining the latest endoscopy and laser technology is bringing relief to The University Physicians Pain Institute patients suffering from painful herniated discs.
Pain specialists Richard Weaver, DO, and Kutabai Tabbaa, MD, of the Anesthesiology Department of the UA College of Medicine, say the LASE endoscopic discetomy is a good choice for patients with contained herniated discs in the back or neck who want to avoid full-blown back surgery.
A herniated disc is a bulge in a spinal disc. The annulus is the outside portion of the disc and completely surrounds the soft nucleus to hold and protect it. In a "contained" herniated disc, the nucleus pushes against the annulus, causing it to bulge and press against the nerve. Herniated discs may cause numbness or shooting pains in the leg and low back.
Most herniated disc symptoms resolve with time. In stubborn cases, however, patients often resort to spinal surgery to remove or repair the discs.
The entire LASE operation is performed through a needle placed into the disc and requires an incision less than 1/4 inch long. The patient usually is sedated but does not undergo general anesthesia.
A miniature fiberoptic videoscope and laser fiber is inserted into the disc. The videoscope allows the physician to see the bulging nucleus tissue and vaporize it with the laser. By removing some of the nucleus from the discs, the pressure on the nerve root is reduced or eliminated.
The outpatient procedure is performed in the UMC Ambulatory Surgery Center and most patients are able to return home within a couple of hours of surgery with only a Band-Aid over their incision.
The UPI Pain Institute offers comprehensive services for chronic, acute or end-stage pain. Pain management is provided for cancer palliation, post-operative pain, chronic back pain, headaches and facial pain, neuralgia and other chronic pain problems. The clinic focuses on easing pain, reducing pain-related disability, and improving quality of life using a variety of therapies and services.
TV Assignment editors: B-roll of Dr. Weaver performing a LASE procedure, as well as footage from the endoscopic videoscope, is available through the Office of Public Affairs, 626-7301.