Dr. Scott Blumenthal was the first Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in the US to perform an Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) surgery. This life changing surgery has now helped over 1,400 Texas Back Institute patients. Recently SpineUniverse.com featured the blog post below about the choosing the right spine surgeon for you.

Choosing the Spine Surgeon Who Is Right for You

Patients often wonder how to choose a spine surgeon to perform their total disc replacement.

The easy answer to this question is simple:  carefully.

The longer answer to this question is:  do your research, both on your surgeon and on the procedure.

Tips for Choosing a Spine Surgeon for Disc Replacement
While thousands of surgeons have been trained in disc replacement techniques, very few have adopted it into their clinical practice with any regularity.

Certainly, the bare minimum requirements for choosing a surgeon would be to ensure he/she is a board certified or board eligible orthopedic or neurosurgical spine surgeon.  “Board certified” means that the doctor has gone through a rigorous testing and peer evaluation process by a specialized medical board.

You can ask your doctor if he/she is board certified, or you can research it online.

Some tips to get a better feel for the expertise of the surgeon are:

  • Ask how long he/she has been performing disc replacement surgery and with what frequency they do this procedure.
  • Make sure your surgeon performs many types of surgery and can tailor your treatment to be most appropriate for your condition. Not every patient is best served with a spinal fusion, nor is every patient best served with disc replacement.
  • Make sure you have open communication with your physician.
  • Make sure you trust and have confidence in your surgeon’s abilities.
  • Look at the surgeon’s academic credentials or published papers.  Find out what they have written on disc replacement and if they are leaders in this specialized area of spine care.

A warning to patients:  Don’t depend on fancy advertising or marketing when choosing a surgeon.  Use all your resources when making a decision this critical. The Internet, medical directories and societies, as well as your regular physician can all be great resources in helping you decide which surgeon to go to.

There are also additional resources such as patient chat rooms and blogs where you can read about other patients’ experiences with surgeons.

Choosing a spine surgeon is a very important decision, and the more facts you can get, the better. Luckily, there are many resources to help you find a spine surgeon who is right for you.

Congratulations to Dr. Hochschuler and Dr. Lieberman!

Becker’s Spine Review recently released the “61 Spine Surgeon Inventors to Know,” which includes Dr. Stephen Hochschuler and Dr. Isador Lieberman of Texas Back Institute.  Members of the list were selected for their research and innovation contributing to the development of spine surgical devices and techniques.

The list was created as a result of extensive research. Surgeons included on the list were trained at top medical schools and have worked with some of the biggest device companies to bring their ideas to the market. In many cases, their contributions have made a difference in the quality and cost-effectiveness of spinal procedures. Many of them are also leaders within their practices, hospital departments or professional organizations.

Here is what was written on the Becker’s website.

Stephen Hochschuler, MD (Texas Back Institute, Plano). Dr. Hochschuler is the co-founder of Texas Back Institute and chairman of Texas Back Institute Holdings. He has several patents for spinal stabilization devices and co-founder of Innovative Spinal Technologies. During his career, Dr. Hochschuler has served on the scientific advisory board of physicians for Alphatec Spine and business advisory board for DePuy Spine. He was co-founder of the Spine Arthroplasty Society, now known as the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery, and has participated in several FDA trials. Dr. Hochschuler earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School in Boston and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

Isador Lieberman, MD (Texas Back Institute, Plano). Dr. Lieberman holds multiple patents for his technological innovations, including SpineAssist, a robotic tool he recently co-developed for use during minimally invasive spine surgery. He has held appointments with Cleveland Clinic as staff surgeon and professor of surgery at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. His developments have been recognized with awards from Cleveland Clinic and the Spine Society of Europe. He recently co-founded the Uganda Charitable Spine Surgeon Mission, with which he accompanies a team of surgeons to visit Uganda each year to treat the underprivileged with spine conditions. He earned his medical degree from the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and completed his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. He also completed residency programs in orthopedic surgery at two Toronto hospitals along with a clinical fellowship in spine and trauma surgery at The Toronto Hospital.

Physicians do not pay and cannot pay to be selected for this list.

*Becker’s Spine Review is a Chicago-based publication focusing on spine and pain practice management. The primary contributors and audience for the publication are spine surgeons and industry experts.

Professional bass fisherman, Ryan Lovelace gets back to fishing

As a professional bass fisherman, Ryan’s pain was exacerbated by his participation in several fishing tournaments every year. In order to win or place in these professional bass fishing tournaments, the angler must catch as many bass as possible with the idea being that the final fish weight of his top 5 fish are compared to the other participants.

The fishing tournament typically lasts for two days and the more fish that are caught, the higher probability of getting 5 huge ones. This requires lots of casts. How many? “I typically cast 3,000 to 3,500 casts each day of a tournament,” Lovelace said.
Standing on his feet for about 8 hours and casting 3,000 times a day during a tournament took its toll on Ryan’s injured back. Over time, it wore down his L5 vertebra and Dr. Richard Guyer at Texas Back Institute recommended a microdiscectomy.
After this procedure was completed, Ryan spent less than 24 hours in the hospital for recovery and was sent home for rest and further rehabilitation. A short while after his operation, Ryan is getting back to his top fishing form. He hopes to be completely recovered and able to compete in the 2013 pro bass fishing season.

Artificial Disc Replacement

September 25, 2012

Dr. Scott Blumenthal was the first Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in the US to perform an Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) surgery. This life changing surgery has now helped over 1,400 Texas Back Institute patients. Recently SpineUniverse.com featured a blog post about the history of artificial disc replacement.

The History of Artificial Disc Replacement

How Long Has This Spine Procedure Been Used?

          Submitted by on September 10th, 2012

Artificial disc replacement (ADR) or total disc  replacement (TDR) is a surgical procedure which replaces a degenerated disc in  the spinal column with an artificial motion device. It has been used in the  United States since the year 2000, but it originated in Europe almost 30 years  ago.

Before performing the first ADR in the United  States in March 2000, I did a lot of research on the procedure, including  visiting with a number of surgeons in Europe as well as the inventor of the  first FDA-approved ADR, Karin Buttner-Janz. Besides inventing the artificial  disc, she is well-known for being an Olympic and world champion gymnast from  East Germany.

With 12 years of experience, we have now  performed more than 1,400 disc replacements in our private practice alone.  Patients now have access to spine surgeons with extensive experience in disc replacement right here in the in the United  States.

Total disc replacement is an alternative to  spinal fusion. It is an innovative process of surgically removing a damaged  disc from the spinal column and replacing it with an artificial disc. This procedure can significantly benefit patients who suffer from herniated discs or degenerative disc disease with or without leg or arm pain.

Artificial disc replacement gives patients an opportunity to retain  mobility in both the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). By  replicating the movement of a normal disc, ADR helps to alleviate adjacent disc  degeneration minimizing the need for additional spine surgery due to disc  degeneration or herniation.

Since 2000, a number of FDA studies of other  artificial discs began enrolling patients in the United States. Over a dozen  studies have been completed in the United States and currently there are four  discs approved for use in the United States.

The FDA-approved disc available for the low back  (lumbar spine) is the ProDisc-L.  For the  neck (cervical spine), the Bryan, Prestige, and ProDisc-C are available.

Looking forward to the future of artificial discs  in America: at least a dozen or so discs are either currently in-trial or have  completed the trials for FDA approval and will hopefully be available in the US  soon.

Uganda Spine Mission 2012

It is that time of year again when Dr. Lieberman and his team travel to provide spine care for the citizens of Uganda.  This year Dr. Lieberman’s team consists of the following members:

1) Izzy Lieberman (spine surgeon) Dallas

2) Brian Failla (equipment manager) Ft lauderdale

3) Paul Holman (spine surgeon) Houston

4) Krzysztof Kusza (anaesthesia) Poland

5) Zbigniew Szkulmowski (anaesthesia) Poland

6) Ejovi Ughwanogho (spine fellow) Dallas

7) Sherri LaCivita (scrub technician) Dallas

8) Elizabeth Wolhfarth (scrub technician) Ft lauderdale

9) Negozi Akotaobi (physical therapist) Dallas

10) Jason Ehrhardt (monitoring tech) Dallas

11) Rob Davis (equipment manager) Dallas

12) Rachelle Lieberman (teacher) Boulder, CO

13) Erin Sadler (medical student) Toronto

Today’s post was contributed by Erin Sadler.  Enjoy!

Day 1 – Arrival to Entebbe, Kampala

 The team all congregated at Heathrow Terminal 5 for a 9:15 pm departure to Entebbe International Airport.  After some brief introductions the team seemed to quickly mesh well together and a warm dynamic was almost instantly evident. The team this year is quite large with thirteen members with various backgrounds, from the United States, Canada, and Poland. After boarding the plane many of us were exhausted from our travels that brought us to Heathrow, and thus tried our best to take advantage of the 8 hour overnight flight to Entebbe and get some sleep!

We landed in Entebbe at 745 hrs after a few hiccups from the flight deck in their attempt to land with heavy tail winds. We were all pleasantly surprised by the beautiful weather with temperatures in the mid 20s (68 degrees fahrenheit). We all gathered our gear, minus a lost bag from Poland, and made our way to meet our buses that would be responsible for our transportation for the next 2 weeks. We loaded up the buses quickly and began our journey to Kampala. Along the route there was much to be seen and taken in. The first glimpse of the fertile Ugandan landscape, the vibrant Ugandan people everywhere you look, the pop-up stalls along the road, and the many handmade bed frames for sale along the roadside, without any mattress stores in sight kept us all entertained throughout the journey.

 We arrived at the Golf Course Apartments in Kampala where we will be staying for the next 2 weeks. These accommodations are very comfortable and well outfitted to suit our needs. Between the thirteen members of the team there are two apartments.  Once we had moved our luggage in and had a chance to refresh ourselves and brush our teeth for the first time in too long, we were once again off into Kampala to do some shopping to buy food items for breakfasts and other necessities like water, hand sanitizer, and the odd bottle of wine!  One hefty shopping bill later, and buses packed to the brim we headed back to the apartments to unload and organize ourselves before taking off again to go visit the two hospitals we will be working at.

The first hospital we visited was Case Hospital, which is a private hospital, relatively affluent with decent equipment, services and patient care; quite similar to a standard hospital in North America.

Izzy unpacking more surgical equipment.

Conversely, we then went to Mulago Hospital, which is the national public hospital; located on a sprawling campus of single story bunker-like buildings that serve as different wards. We specifically visited the Spine Ward, where we will be performing operations in the theatre, and the Orthopedic Ward.

Some surgical equipment at Case.

The spinal ward at Melago.

 

Supplies at the spinal ward in Melago.

Both were equally eye-opening: wide open rooms with several beds lined up side by side, filled with patients, and more surprising, the patient beds were surrounded by families. It was very interesting to see the dynamic of patient care in the Mulago setting, where the families seem to be the primary care givers despite the inpatient nature of the hospital accommodations. The families were huddled around the patients, sometimes having created a small area near the patient`s bed where they have essentially set up a temporary squatting home, feeding them self-prepared food, bathing them, and really the only people in the hospital providing vigilant care to these patients. Futhermore, the familial presence extends beyond the hospital walls, where as you walk outside you notice families have found a space to call their own on the hospital property and are essentially squatting there as their loved one remains in hospital. As I toured these poorly faciliated wards, I couldn`t help but question how these native Ugandans view us: as foreigners who are coming to try and help, or perhaps do they question our role in their medical care? To continue this enlightening cultural experience, we then went to walk through a nearby slum in Kampala. As a group we walked through narrow dirt alleyways for streets, which were covered in garbarge and had waste water running down the middle, as beautiful friendly people waved and smiled at us through the hanging laundry, and curtained doorways fondly yelling “Muzungu” as we passed them by. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced before in my life, and not because I haven’t seen images like this on television or in other popular media outlets, but I think I was most taken by the joy and sense of community that I felt in this incredibly extreme and impoverished environment. I guess I expected to feel sadder and helplessness, which I definitely did feel, but these negative feelings were overwhelmed by my feeling that although these people live in the most horrific conditions, their sense of community is really quite powerful and uplifting. Moreover, the throngs of beautiful children with toothy grinned smiles from ear to ear was also quite a powerful sight, for there seemed to be such a sense of responsibility of the older children to look after the young, and the spirit of the child was so clearly evident, it outshone any despair that they, or more likely I, was feeling.

Boy from the slums.

Ejovi playing soccer with some of the kids.

Picture of the slums.

As we got into our buses and drove 5 minutes down the road into our plush apartments it became very apparent how contrastingly different Ugandan life can be, just simply a few blocks apart. We couldn’t help but feel incredibly spoiled as we spent the rest of the afternoon cooling off by the pool, and then heading to an amazing Indian restaurant for a lively dinner and some delicious curries. Before everyone fell asleep at the table, we headed home to spend our first night in Kampala, and have sweet dreams of the upcoming days of hard, yet extremely meaningful work to come!

Our group at dinner.

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Olympics are going to be here before we know it. If you’re anything like some of the Texas Back Institute doctors and staff, you may find yourself motivated to push a little harder towards your personal fitness goals. If this is you, congratulations! Setting personal fitness goals is essential in making sure you don’t get bored with your workouts and it helps keep you on your toes.
Dr. Michael Duffy, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at Texas Back Isntitute
Dr. Michael Duffy is an orthopedic spine surgeon here at Texas Back Institute and running is something he loves to do. In honor of the Olympics we have asked Dr. Duffy to share some of his running tips with our readers.

First things first…STRETCH! This can not be stressed enough. Stretching before you start your run is crucial. The last thing you want to do is pull a muscle just as you are getting close to reaching your fitness goals. Just take 5 minutes to stretch your legs, shoulders and arms. You can even do this while you are getting your iPod playlist ready to go.

Second, if you are running and you start to experience pain (unrelated to normal muscle fatigue) try icing the painful area and taking NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If your pain does not subside, take a look at your footwear. If you don’t have the right running shoes they may be causing imbalance thereby placing stress on your knees, hips and back. Most running stores can help fit you for shoes – you just have to ask. If all of this fails, consult your physician for further testing.

Third, and this time we saved the best for last, HYDRATE – HYDRATE – HYDRATE. It’s so hot out this time of year, especially in Texas, hydration can happen before you know it. Make sure to drink lots of water before, during and after you run! Even the Olympians have to hydrate.

Just getting into a running routine? Share with us what motivates you!

Go Team USA!

Remember, when starting any new exercise program it’s important to consult with your physician to make sure you are healthy enough to do so.

Pace yourself – most runner injuries are results of doing too much too soon.

Here are a few things our medical receptionist would like you to know, to make every medical visit as easy as possible for you.

Call to schedule an appointment during mid-day hours.  Avoiding the rush hours is always a good idea.

Know your own schedule before calling to make an appointment. This will make the process move more quickly for you and the office manager and avoid any accidental double-booking that you might have to correct later.

Fill out new patient paperwork before you come to your appointment. Many practices provide paperwork online, via email or will mail it to you. You’ll avoid having to call someone from the doctor’s office to get information you might not have handy or remember.  In some cases, you may also be more accurate and thorough in answering some questions. You’ll also spend less time in the waiting room.

Have all of your insurance information with you. Be prepared to present your insurance cards and all applicable policy numbers. Most doctors’ offices also require some form of identification, such as a driver’s license.

Prepare, in advance, your questions for the doctor, timeline and notes for your medical condition and medications you are taking. If possible, keep a journal of your medical condition that records symptoms, medications taken, any side effects, etc. that will help you present your situation more accurately to the doctor. Also come with your questions so that you won’t leave your appointment and then remember you forgot to ask a question that is important to you.

Call the doctor’s office from the road if you’re running late. Make sure you have the office contact information with you so that you can let them know if you’re lost, stuck in a traffic jam or something else causing you to be late. The receptionist may then be able to move other patients ahead of you and work you in. (And please pull your vehicle over to a safe place to make your call.)

If going to a specialist, bring all of your diagnostic results with you. Make sure you gather up all diagnostic test results, such as imaging procedures and blood work, with you. The specialist will need them and not having them can delay your treatment. Also, bringing your files with you in person is better so as to avoid any problems such as transfer of files that aren’t identified properly.

Inform the office manager of any special circumstances associated with your condition and office visit. Be sure to let the doctor’s office know if your situation involves a worker’s compensation claim, accident or previous surgery.


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