Thursday, October 28, 2004

Two surgeons to train others to implant disc

Operation using artificial device could lead to relief from some spinal ailments

By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer

For some Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents suffering from relentless lower back troubles, there is an emerging alternative to spinal fusion surgery - implanting an artificial disc.

In fact, two Cincinnati surgeons will be among about 50 nationwide who will begin training doctors nationwide and worldwide next month on how to install an artificial disc that won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval Tuesday.

The Charite artificial disc, made by DePuy Spine Inc. of Raynham, Mass., is the first device of its kind to be approved for general use in the United States. The device has been used for more than a decade in Europe.

Drs. John Roberts and Alfred Kahn of the Cincinnati Spine Institute will be teaching other doctors about the procedure at Ethicon Endo-Surgery's surgical training facility in Blue Ash.

"We're going to have people from all over the world flying here for this," Roberts said. "We were selected as trainers for this part of the country because this device requires an approach through the abdomen, and we have a lot of experience with that approach."

The operation is intended to ease the pain of spinal disc damage while maintaining more range of motion. The disc, a plastic core sandwiched by two metal plates, is intended as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery.

Millions of Americans suffer lower back pain and more than 200,000 people have damage severe enough to undergo spinal fusion surgery each year, including more than 1,000 people in this region. However, only about 10 percent of people who qualify for spinal fusion surgery will qualify for the artificial disc, Roberts said.

Among the limitations:

• Only one disc can be damaged.

• The damage has to involve one of the two lowest vertebrae.

• There cannot be too much arthritis damage to joints that connect the vertebrae.

While the DePuy device is the first to reach market, other spinal disc replacement devices are being studied. In Cincinnati, the Mayfield Clinic began clinical trials earlier this month of the FlexiCore artificial disc, made by Stryker Corp. of Kalamazoo, Mich. Three local patients have participated.

The Associated Press contributed. E-mail

Election 2004 page
Gay issue foes' names not listed
Butler Co. race 3-way hot
2 districts hope to hike income tax
Judge blocks GOP's voter challenges
Evendale seeks charter change
Fairfield teachers take freeze
Filmmaker Moore brings anti-GOP show to town
Northwest levy fight bitter
Region invests millions in race
Draft is 'sleeper issue'
Poll workers preparing for additional scrutiny
Go to polls, soldier pleads
Voters to decide fire chief's status
Kings tries Q&A to sway voters
Gloves off in last debate for Congress
Fletcher's way to restore voting rights criticized
Some stations to pull gay-amendment spot
Six council members defend Groob
Senate candidates appeal to the faithful

Panel urges giving leftover flu vaccine to health workers
Mom wants to adopt daughter she lost
Fire burns home; owner found dead

County kicks in $900,000 toward Anderson connector
Fumes at Country Day sicken 11 first-graders
Lakota won't fight district
Local news briefs
Police talks under way
Public safety briefs
New community planning chief introduced
Two Mason feature writers are national semifinalists
Err on the side of openness, Ohio attorney general says
Two surgeons to train others to implant disc
Township seeks uniform zoning
Tax plan is a fraud, government says
Neighbors briefs

Bronson: Guilty as sin? Rapist insists on DNA test
Good Things Happening

John H. Payne, 89, 'surgeon's surgeon'

Yahoo! Louisville a stop on Dew tour
Bridge work hurts shops
Kentucky news briefs
Rosemary Clooney's home to be museum
Gillespie to be honored with musical tribute
N. Ky. news briefs
Worker slams door on would-be robber
Exotic club fees delayed
Airport to join inquiry into worker's maiming
Swimmers in sync
Butlers give $1M to United Way