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Published on January 04, 2007

First in the Area to Access the Spine Alongside the Tailbone to Treat Low Back Pain Using Minimally-Invasive AxiaLIF Surgery

ABINGTON, PA (January 4, 2007) - Neurosurgeons at Abington Memorial Hospital's Human Motion Institute are the first in the area to offer a novel lumbar fusion alternative in which they approach the spine alongside the coccyx bone (tailbone). The AxiaLIF System is a "two stitch" minimally invasive procedure that can bring relief to patients experiencing degenerative disc disease in the L5/S1 disc space. 

In this procedure, surgeons approach the spine through a one-inch incision alongside the tailbone. The procedure is done under fluoroscopy (continuous x-ray). "This approach to the spine allows for the least invasive access to the L5 and S1 level of the spine without the major dissections of the surrounding spinal soft tissue associated with conventional fusion," said Steven J. Barrer, M.D., chief of Neurosurgery at Abington Memorial Hospital. "It's ideal for younger patients and those who don't want a scar on their back like those associated with traditional spine fusion."

According to Dr. Barrer, people who may be candidates for this surgery would be those who have severe degenerative disc disease which causes back pain. The procedure itself takes 45 to 60 minutes to perform.

There are many advantages of this surgery over traditional open fusion, according to Barrer. "For example, the surgeon does not destabilize the spine in the process because he is not going through the abdomen or the back. In addition, there is no injury to soft tissue, no disruption of muscles, shorter time under anesthesia, significantly less blood loss, shorter hospital stay, and because it is minimally invasive, the incision is smaller," said Barrer.

The AxiaLIF System includes devices used to access the spine, remove the diseased disc material, re-establish normal disc height and stabilize the spine to enable lumbar fusion to occur. The device that is implanted in the spine is made of titanium and resembles a large screw.

Abington Memorial Hospital is an independent 570-bed, acute care teaching hospital with a medical staff of more than 800 physicians and 5,000 employees. These professionals provide medical care and health services to residents of Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

A regional provider, Abington Memorial Hospital has the only Level II accredited trauma center in Montgomery County and offers highly specialized services in cardiac care, cancer care, maternal child health, neurosurgery and orthopaedics.

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