Joint replacement for the spine

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- About 1.2 million Americans suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis. It's a condition that can cause debilitating pain. Spinal fusion surgery can help, but it sometimes leaves patients with limited mobility. Now, there's a new treatment on the horizon; it's a joint replacement for the spine.

Eileen Eckert is a mom, grandma, and now great-grandma.

"I love it. I'm on the go!" exclaimed Eckert.

But keeping up with the little ones was tough when Eckert developed spinal stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spinal canal and lots of pain.

"It was a stabbing pain," Eckert told ABC30. "It just got more and more painful."

Eckert's doctor told her about a brand new procedure, and she was one of the first patients in the country to have it.

Eckert said, "I said if it's going to take the pain away, let's do it!"

As part of a clinical trial, surgeon Neel Anand is performing a joint replacement for the spine. He first removes parts of the facet joints.

"In the back, there are two joints, called facet joints that actually move," Neel Anand, M.D., Clinical Professor of Surgery and Director of Spine Trauma at Cedars-Sinai told ABC30.

He then implants artificial facet joints that move and function just like healthy joints. With traditional spinal fusion, patients have limited mobility and risk further spine degeneration. With the new joint replacement, the goal is for patients to be able to move freely and not compromise their spine. Eckert noticed immediate relief.

"She's certainly somebody who has benefitted from this," explained Dr. Anand.

Now she can lift her great-grandson without pain holding her back.

Nearly 30 centers across the country are participating in a clinical trial to test the facet joint replacement surgery. To date, over 300 patients have been enrolled and treated in this clinical trial.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Cece Bruce, MSc, CCRP
Administrative Manager for Dr. Neel Anand
Cedars-Sinai Spine Center
310-423-9209 Phone
310-423-9773 Fax

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