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UCSF surgeon develops new spinal surgery technique

UCSF surgeons are using a novel technique to remove tumors from the cervical region of the spine that were previously thought "inoperable."

Called a lateral paramedian transpedicular approach, the technique uses advances in spinal instrumentation and reconstructive strategies to provide a direct approach to the removal of cervical spinal tumors with minimal, or no, neural manipulation.

The procedure is reported in the November issue of Operative Neurosurgery. UCSF is the only medical institution in the United States where patients can undergo this surgery.

Developed by neurosurgeon Christopher Ames, MD, co-director of neurospinal disorders and director of the Spinal Biomechanics and Spinal Neuronavigation Laboratory at UCSF Medical Center, the surgery uses standard and innovative devices to first remove and then reconstruct portions of the cervical spine in order to access tumors. Once the bone is removed, surgeons have a direct line of sight to the tumor and are able to remove it in its entirety without having to move or manipulate the spinal cord.

After the tumor is removed, surgeons immediately rebuild the spine with artificial pedicle screws, a reconstruction technique also developed by Ames. The technique is particularly useful in cases in which the tumor is located in the middle of the spinal canal and attached to the lining of the spine. These types of tumors include meningiomas, neurofibromas and exophytic astrocytomas.

Patient Stacey Hall recently underwent surgery to remove a neurofibroma, a usually benign tumor of the peripheral nerves. Hall's tumor caused her skin to be acutely sensitive to touch, her hands to experience numbness, and her legs to collapse from under her at times. "The damage was so severe, the slightest breeze against my skin caused me excruciating pain," said Hall. "The first thing I noticed after my surgery was that my skin no longer hurt for the first time in more than a year
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Contact: Vanessa deGier
vdegier@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
4-Nov-2005


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