Newswise — The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore recently became the first health care facility in Maryland to offer a new, minimally invasive surgical procedure for treating irritated nerves in the neck.

The procedure could result in less pain and a faster recovery for patients.

Omar Zalatimo, MD, MPH, MHA, a neurosurgeon at the Brain & Spine Institute, successfully performed Sinai’s first posterior percutaneous cervical spine fusion procedure, a complement to traditional open posterior cervical fusion that can have multiple benefits for patients. The Brain & Spine Institute is proud to offer this advanced treatment option in support of LifeBridge Health’s overall mission to improve the health of individuals in the communities it serves through compassionate, high-quality care.

“We are excited to be able to offer this new procedure to our patients. Percutaneous spinal fusion can lead to less blood loss in the operating room, less postoperative pain for patients and shorter hospital stays so that patients can return home and back to their daily activities sooner,” Zalatimo said. “Patients appreciate the fact that this option often allows them to leave the hospital either on the same day of surgery or the following day.” 

Someone with an irritated nerve root in the neck may experience pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensations that in some cases can extend to the shoulders, arms or hands—symptoms that can be debilitating or interfere with normal daily activities. Recurring symptoms that aren't helped by nonsurgical treatment methods such as medication, physical therapy, injections and electric stimulation therapy may require patients to undergo a procedure via the front of the neck known as anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (the removal of a damaged disc and placement of bone graft or implants in its place to stabilize and strengthen the affected area), along with a procedure via the back of the neck known as posterior cervical fusion (which provides further stability), to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots and stabilize the spinal bones or vertebrae. 

Traditional posterior cervical fusion requires a large incision and stripping of muscle from the spine and can cause significant blood loss, visible scarring, pain after surgery, and even swallowing and speaking difficulties in some cases. The new posterior percutaneous cervical spine fusion technique, also performed in addition to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, requires only very small incisions (about half the size of a dime) and thus, in addition to less blood loss and a faster recovery, may result in a reduced need for pain medication and favorable cosmetic outcomes. Sinai’s first patient to undergo the procedure reported an immediate improvement.

Posterior percutaneous cervical spine fusion is ideal for adults with degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine (a condition in which pain or discomfort is caused by a disc that is damaged after an injury or wears down as a result of natural aging) and accompanying pain symptoms caused by the inflammation of a spinal nerve root. Patients considered for the procedure should first receive at least six weeks of conservative care (e.g., medication, physical therapy, injections and electric stimulation therapy), which may alleviate the symptoms and eliminate the need for surgery.

For more information about The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute or to make an appointment, visit the appointment page or call 410-601-WELL. You can also fill out our online appointment request form.