Dr. George Rappard Presents Results on Minimally Invasive Whiplash Treatment at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the International Spine Intervention Society Meeting

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Cervical rhizotomy is a safe, minimally invasive surgery treatment for patients with moderate neck pain caused by a whiplash injury. Patients exhibited marked improvement in pain scores.

Rappard’s results mean that patients can exhibit significant relief in neck pain after fewer procedures and in less time than with traditional methods…

Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine Institute Neurointerventional Surgeon, Dr. George Rappard, presented his results for the minimally invasive treatment of neck pain due to whiplash injury at the annual meeting of the International Spine Intervention Society (ISIS), held from July 30-August 4, 2014, in Orlando, Florida. At the ISIS annual meeting, leading physicians in the minimally invasive treatment of spine pain from around the world gather to present ground breaking results and exchange ideas. Dr. Rappard’s presentation centered on his results performing the cervical rhizotomy procedure for the treatment of moderate whiplash related neck pain.

Whiplash is a serious condition effecting more than 3 million Americans every year. In approximately 40% of cases the resultant neck pain becomes chronic. Studies have shown that in 50% to 80% of cases with chronic neck pain after whiplash the pain is caused by an injury to the facet joint. The facet joint is a joint on either side of the vertebra, behind the disc. The facet joint joins a vertebra to the vertebra above and below it.

Cervical rhizotomy is a unique procedure in which a physician utilizes x-rays to navigate a small needle to the precise location on the facet joint of the vertebra where a microscopic nerve that senses pain is located. Once the needle is positioned a tiny electrode is placed through the needle sheath. The electrode delivers radiofrequency energy that results in enough heating around the needle tip, usually in a circumference of no more than several millimeters, to cause coagulation of the target nerve. This results in long term anesthesia and reduction in pain from the injured joint.

Currently available treatments for whiplash mediated neck pain include epidural injection. Epidural injections have been in the news lately because of infections caused by contamination of injected medicines. Furthermore, the FDA has just issued a warning about the potential side effects of the medications used in an epidural injection. Lastly, epidural injections have only short term effects and may have to be repeated after several weeks or months. Another treatment for whiplash mediated joint pain is immobilization of the joint via a surgical fusion. In a fusion surgery, the disc is removed and replaced by a prosthesis and bone. Fusion is a significantly invasive procedure with a substantial recovery period and many patients with only moderate pain do not wish to undergo fusion.

Patients in Dr. Rappard’s study suffered from moderate to severe neck pain proven to be due to whiplash mediated joint injury. A total of 18 patients were evaluated and treated. All patients had symptoms despite physical therapy and medications. Pain scores were obtained and were based on a subjective scoring of the patient’s own pain. The average score prior to surgery was consistent with moderate pain. At an average follow up of 5 months pain scores had dropped an average of 57% following the rhizotomy procedure. 75% of patients exhibited a clinically significant drop in their pain scores after the procedure. No complications were noted. Importantly, Dr. Rappard’s study is one of just a few investigating the cervical rhizotomy procedure after just a single diagnostic block, meaning that Rappard’s results mean that patients can exhibit significant relief in neck pain after fewer procedures and in less time than with traditional methods.

The Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine Institute provides state of the art comprehensive and minimally invasive spine therapies, including cutting edge research. Institute care is delivered in a compassionate and accessible community based setting. Since the Institute specializes in ultra-minimally invasive procedures, care is delivered in an efficient, convenient and cost sparing out-patient environment. The Institute is one of just a handful of comprehensive minimally invasive spine centers on the West Coast.

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To learn more about minimally invasive and comprehensive spine therapies, visit the Los Angeles Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at http://www.LAMISinstitute.com, or email us at info(at)LAMISinstitute(dot)com.

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