New Spine Procedure Performed at NFRMC
May 10, 2012
Gainesville, FL – North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) has announced that spine surgeon, Dr. John Stevenson, has performed the area’s first Sacroiliac (SI) joint fixation surgery using the minimally invasive iFuse Implant System®. The iFuse procedure is a promising procedure for patients with unresolved low back symptoms related to the SI Joint.
“This is a new answer to so many patients who have been suffering with pain originating from the SI joint and just trying to live with it,” Dr. John Stevenson says. “Many of these patients have been counting on injections of pain medications to help them get through the pain because there wasn’t this kind of answer before. Now, they have an excellent option.”
The SI Joint connects the sacrum, the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine, with the pelvic iliac crest. This joint can become damaged either due to normal wear and tear over time or through injury. Many patients with SI joint pain have had previous spinal fusion surgeries or have been involved in motor vehicle accidents. Potential SI joint patients also include women who, in the years following childbirth, experienced pelvis expansion that results in pain. When such damage happens, it can cause significant discomfort from the lower back down to the lower buttock region and the upper leg.
“We are excited about working together with Dr. Stevenson to bring this new option to patients,” says Chip Overstreet, AVP for Orthopedic and Spine Services at NFRMC. “This is a minimally invasive procedure that allows patients to return home the day after surgery. They can usually resume daily living activities within six weeks, depending on how well they are healing and their doctor’s orders.”
According to published literature, 25 percent of all low back symptoms are SI Joint in origin, a fact that is sometimes missed in diagnosing lower back pain. “Over the last 30 years, we have focused on the vertebral discs, such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, as a generator of low back pain,” says Dr. Stevenson. “Because of this, the SI Joint may have been overlooked when it should be included as part of diagnosis and treatment planning.”
The iFuse procedure is designed to offer a minimally invasive solution for patients who are no longer responding satisfactorily to conservative care, but for whom the prospect of a traditional open surgery is not desirable. The iFuse procedure takes about an hour and involves three small titanium implants inserted surgical across the SI Joint. The entire process is done through a small incision, with no soft tissue stripping and minimal tendon irritation.
Up to 85 percent of all people have lower back pain at some point in life. Lower back pain is second only to upper respiratory problems as a reason for visits to a physician, generating 15 million office visits annually. It is the fifth-ranking cause of admission to hospital and the third most common cause of surgical procedures. In 2005, annual direct and indirect costs for treatment of lower back pain reached $86 billion.