: NCH neurosurgeon treats man with back pain.
Back pain is a common reason people visit their doctor.
It’s also common in older people who have a condition known as spinal stenosis. This is a narrowing or curving of the spinal canal.
This can cause severe pain if the nerve is compressed.
Even surgery can fail.
John Koffel said, “I’ve never done this before.” He had a procedure performed on his back recently to relieve pain.
It is almost a miracle to see Koffel play golf.
His back pain began after an accident when he was in his teens.
It only got worse despite several surgeries.
“I lived with sciatica for 50 years.” And I lived with it. Then it became nerve pain, and it was excruciating. It got so bad that I was incapacitated,” Koffel said. “I had no choice but to walk with a cane. I was afraid that I would be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of my days.
His options were limited and his pain was immense.
When NCH neurosurgeon Edison Valle photographed his spine, he saw a chance.
“On the opposite side, you can’t see the nerve,” Valle explained. “From all of the surgeries he has had, he has a lot scarring on one of his nervous systems. The nerve that went to the right leg had been severely compressed. He was trapped between two bones and every time the bones moved, the nerve was crushed.
His previous surgeries to fuse his back and relieve pain had now choked a nerve.
The fix was to open a space and free it.
This required a level precision that was only possible through the combination of several cutting-edge technologies.
The first was a nanoscope that is used primarily in ankle surgery.
It’s an ultra-small camera.
It looks like a needle. Valle said, “It gives you wonderful images.”
The challenge was to remove the bone without damaging any nerves and get through the layers of scar tissue.
“The next tool that allowed us to do this is an ultrasonic aspirator.” Valle explained that the tool is minimally invasive. “Through ultrasonic wave that give and take in the bone, you can basically destroy bones and at the time aspirate bone that is pressing onto the nerve without getting into the actual nerve itself and being able create a new home for the nerve,” Valle said.
This ultra-minimally-invasive surgery took only an hour, despite its complexity.
The results were immediate.
“This was the very first surgery in the system that used all these tools that were technology driven and innovative, right, so that we could help someone like him,” Valle stated.
Koffel says that for the first 50 years of his life, he no longer has back pain.
“I’ve never lived without back pain. It’s the very first time that I’ve not had it. Koffel said, “I don’t really know how to deal with it.
He feels now free to enjoy his life.
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