Tufts Medical Center offers a new treatment for back pain

Millions of Americans need treatment for back pain, and sometimes surgery is the only option. But a Boston hospital is now giving patients a choice about how this procedure is performed. “I had a 55-minute commute to and from work,” said Dale McClanan. “When I got to work, it was quite painful to enter the building and walk up the stairs.” For McClanan, the solution to his pain was a spinal fusion. He had the procedure done twice. The first time seven years ago under general anesthesia. The second time, just seven months ago, he was wide awake. “I just remember sitting in a chair and they made me grab a bar,” he said. “And they turn you around. I was awake during the whole thing.’ James Kryzanski has performed hundreds of these procedures at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. He said while the option might sound scary, it’s very similar to the procedure used for a knee replacement or even a cesarean. “You’re going to have a spinal tap. And we’ll just put a small dose of a local anesthetic in your spine,” he explained. “That gives you about three hours of numbness down the area of ​​the injection.” Kryzanski said there are other benefits. “The operations under the spine are faster, smoother and with less blood loss than the same operation under the general one,” he said. Tufts’ data show that patients with the “awake” surgical option spent less time in recovery and less time in rehab. “I would say it was almost half the impact I had before,” McClanan said. “It gives you a remarkably quick recovery. And I would say within six weeks it was like it never happened.” Kryzanski said the Awake option is available for any patient who needs a spinal fusion. The only exceptions are people with scoliosis or severe anxiety.

Millions of Americans need treatment for back pain, and sometimes surgery is the only option. But a Boston hospital is now giving patients a choice about how this procedure is performed.

“I had a 55-minute commute to and from work,” said Dale McClanan. “When I got to work, it was quite painful to enter the building and walk up the stairs.”

For McClanan, the solution to his pain was a spinal fusion. He had the procedure done twice. The first time seven years ago under general anesthesia. The second time, just seven months ago, he was wide awake.

“I just remember sitting in a chair and they made me grab a bar,” he said. “And they turn you around. I was awake the whole time.”

dr James Kryzanski has performed hundreds of these procedures at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. He said while the option might sound scary, it’s very similar to the procedure used for a knee replacement or even a cesarean.

“You’re going to have a spinal tap. And we’ll just put a small dose of a local anesthetic in your spine,” he explained. “That gives you about three hours of numbness from the injection area down.”

Kryzanski said there are other benefits.

“The operations under the spine are faster, smoother and with less blood loss than the same operation under the general one,” he said.

Tufts’ data show that patients with the “while awake” surgical option spent less time in recovery and less time in rehab.

“I would say it was almost half the impact I had before,” McClanan said. “It gives you a remarkably quick recovery. And I would say within six weeks it was like it never happened.”

Kryzanski said the “awake” option is available for any patient who needs spinal fusion. The only exceptions are people with scoliosis or severe anxiety.

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