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Health Information Surgical Innovations for the Back

Surgical Innovations for the Back at Rush University Medical Center

“We offer all of the different types of surgical procedures, from conventional to minimally invasive,” says Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD, orthopedic surgeon and chairperson of the department of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Minimally invasive surgeries use smaller incisions and image-guided technology to maneuver instruments between muscle tissues, rather than cutting through them. These procedures usually mean less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times than with conventional surgery.

“If you’re disrupting less muscle, the recovery process is faster,” Dugan says. “That’s been a pretty exciting development.”

Another exciting innovation now offered at the Spine and Back Center is artificial lumbar disc replacement for treating the pain associated with degenerative disc disease, a condition that affects more than 200,000 people in the United States each year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved lumbar disc replacement in 2004. They found that patients who receive artificial disc replacement surgery maintain flexibility. They experience less pain immediately after surgery and regain function faster. They leave the hospital sooner and are more satisfied than patients who undergo traditional fusion surgery.

Physician researchers at Rush are conducting several studies on disc replacements, including cervical disc replacement, a procedure in the neck area that no one else in the Chicago area offers at this time.

As both researchers and physicians, the experts at Rush are known for pioneering treatments for spine disorders. This team of experts, working together in a multidisciplinary approach, help ensure that you will have the right doctor providing the right treatment.

“With collaboration, first of all, you get the right decision as to whether or not you need surgery,” Andersson says. “Then we all work together to make sure that both the treatment and rehabilitation are optimal.”

Team effort

The Spine and Back Center employs a multidisciplinary approach, which means a group of neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and rehabilitation medicine specialists known as physiatrists, to pinpoint the source of pain and get patients back on their feet again, literally; sometimes with surgery, many times without.

Specialists perform the latest and most innovative treatments, including minimally invasive surgeries and artificial lumbar and cervical disc replacement — procedures that are available at only a handful of centers nationwide.

The multidisciplinary approach doesn’t end with diagnosis and surgery. Physiatrists, physical therapists and other specialists help patients with exercise, stretching and other activities. And nutritionists can help if extra weight is putting a strain on your back.

To find a physician, call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).

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