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Spinal Disorders and Deformities
Neurosurgery is involved in the entire spectrum of spinal disorders, including development problems, trauma, tumors and degenerative diseases. The department performs more than 800 spinal operations annually, working closely with all members of the neurosciences team to provide the latest alternatives to surgery. For example, Loyola is one of only a few centers in the U.S. performing an outpatient procedure called vertebroplasty in which injections of methylmethacrylate paste prevent the vertebrae in the spinal column from collapsing due to osteoporosis or other bone-related disorders. Through the procedure, patients report relief from severe chronic back pain without the need for narcotic medications or major back surgery.
Minimally Invasive, Computer-Assisted Spinal Fusion
Implementation of minimally invasive, computer-assisted spinal fusions has launched a new era in complex spine surgery. Acquisition of new surgical technology has enabled Loyola surgeons to expand this program. Surgeons use computer-assisted X-ray technology (spinal angiogram) to see the patient’s spine through the skin. By making only small incisions, they can decompress spinal discs or implant instruments – such as screws and rods – to stabilize the spine. This minimally invasive approach has improved patient outcomes and decreased hospital stays.
The Spinal Deformity and Scoliosis Clinic now performs 20 major cases per month to place stabilizing screws and rods. An increasing number of patients with spinal injuries and deformities are referred to Loyola’s neurosciences team each week. In 90 percent of cases, if the patient has no permanent damage to the nerves or spinal cord, the specialists can restore proper alignment and movement.
Spinal Cord Injury and Repair Laboratory
Basic research in the spinal cord injury repair laboratory involves exploration of novel treatments for craniocervical abnormalities, experimental transplantation of neurotrophils in spinal cord injury, stem cell transplants and molecular events in the adult injured spinal cord.
Kyphoplasty of the spine treats vertebral compression fractures in patients with osteoporosis and other brittle bone conditions. A balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the fracture and inflated to restore the height and shape. Bone cement is injected into the cavity created by the balloon to stabilize the bone. This procedure can reduce the risk of subsequent fractures by improving the angle, height and stability of the spine.