Medical Moment: A new surgery technique for back pain

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 5:33 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - Back pain is the leading cause of disability among American adults under the age of 65.

Around 500,000 lumbar spine surgeries are done every year.

New technology is improving accuracy and patient safety in the operating room. It’s similar to the tech that’s used in self-driving cars!

For 66-year-old Sam Demaria, this is a victory. Demaria’s been living with chronic back pain for 15 years. Demaria had six back surgeries over the years. The first five brought temporary relief. But, then, he’d be laid up again.

“The only comfort I had was in my bed, on my back, with pillows under my leg. That was it. If I came downstairs, I lasted five minutes and went right back upstairs,” DeMaria recalled.

“He had scoliosis, and multi-level, basically numerous nerves that were getting compressed in numerous places,” said Jeremy Steinberger, MD, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai.

Dr. Steinberger and his team performed DeMaria’s sixth surgery, but this time, they had a new navigation system using machine vision technology.

“So, you can basically touch a probe to the patient, and you see where you are on the patient’s spine,” Dr. Steinberger continued.

Machine vision technology is similar to the technology and sophisticated software used in self-driving cars. In a surgical suite, special cameras analyze the anatomy and create a 3D image. A light overhead takes a “flash” image. In four seconds, it gives surgeons thousands of fiducial points to register a patient’s CT scans.

“That’s what links the patient to the technology, and that’s when you can check to confirm that you’re accurate,” Dr. Steinberger said.

“I was pain-free after the surgery,” DeMaria said. “I’m standing up straight, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish.”

He is moving better than he has in years.

One added benefit to the technology is that the new navigation system does not require a patient to have fluoroscopy imaging.

That means much less radiation for the patient!