The Spinal Solution
Inova Spine Institute Helps Patients Return to a Better Quality of Life
Extreme-lateral interbody fusion, Susan Mason’s third back surgery, is minimally invasive. It involves fusing the lumbar spine using a surgical approach from the side rather than from the front or the back.
Susan Mason took a nasty spill in November 2010. After sensing an all-too-familiar “shift” in her back, she called Ronald Childs, MD, Medical Director, Inova Spine Institute, Inova Fairfax Hospital. “I had no intention of leading a sedentary life,” explains the 64-year-old Mason. “And I knew from experience that Dr. Childs is the best there is.”
The two originally met in 1994, when Dr. Childs performed Mason’s first spinal fusion, a surgical procedure to correct problems with the spine’s vertebrae. They met again in 1995 for Mason’s second spinal fusion. Finally, the patient and surgeon reunited for Mason’s third spine surgery — this time through Inova Spine Institute, a unique, collaborative treatment program that today represents the leading spine treatment program in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Between Mason’s first and third surgery, the world had not only moved into a new century, but Dr. Childs had also helped pioneer a new system to improve the results and safety of a minimally invasive spine surgery called extreme-lateral interbody fusion — a procedure that perfectly suited Mason’s needs.
“When I compare my third surgery to the other two, recovery was much quicker,” Mason says.
The improvement in Mason’s experience can be applied to the field of spinal surgery as a whole. “The advent of minimally invasive spine surgeries, like Susan’s, has caused a paradigm shift in how we can treat patients,” says Dr. Childs. “Protocols across the board have vastly improved in physical rehabilitation and pain management as well. The spine remains a complex endeavor, but advancements in our ability to diagnose and treat back and spine disorders have been enormous in the last 15 years.”
Inova Spine Institute is on the leading
edge of spinal care. It unites the largest
team of back pain specialists in the
region into one comprehensive network.
The result is a collaborative partnership
between rehabilitation physicians,
interventional pain management doctors
“Too often, patients waste their time
money by trying to navigate the complex
web of providers and treatment options
on their own, ending up with appointments with the wrong type of
specialist and receiving ineffective care,”
stresses Rob Theis, Executive Director
of Neurosciences, Inova Spine Institute.
“That’s where the Inova Spine Institute
care coordination team comes into play. One of our spine care intake experts will review your condition, either at one of our many local spine assessment centers or over the phone, and then facilitate an easy transition to the best possible care team.”
The objective of the Institute is to help patients return to a full range of movement and function. “Everything we humans do involves the spine, from moving and standing to taking a breath,” says Dr. Childs. “So our goal, for every patient, is to restore comfortable, functional movement.”
To accomplish this, Inova spine specialists offer a full range of treatment options, including more conservative options, such as pain management and physical therapy, and back surgery. And if surgery is required, the Institute offers the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques available.
How the treatment options and techniques blend together for success is a team effort involving clinicians and the patient. “It’s important for patients to realize they play a key role in their recovery,” says Dr. Childs. “Most back injuries, excluding major trauma or tumors, are degenerative in nature; they take time to develop, and it takes time to recover. So the patient’s input, dedication and participation are essential. We’re going to be working together for a while, so it’s important that the patient feels comfortable at all times and everyone is aiming for the same goal — maximized results.”
Get Back to It
Find out more about Inova Spine Institute here. Call 703-391-3667 to request an assessment from an experienced spine care specialist.
Your back is one of the most complex areas in your body.
It is made up of interconnecting nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, each of which can be a source of pain. Bones and joints form the axial skeleton, which provides strong, flexible support for the trunk of the body and also protects the spinal cord, which is housed within the axial skeleton. While this complex system is a remarkable example of strength, it is also estimated that more than 80 percent of American adults will experience some form of neck or back pain during their lives.
Several common symptoms that are often related to spine conditions include:
- Neck pain – persistent aching or stiffness; sharp, localized pain; pain that radiates into the arm or hand; acute arm pain; arm numbness or weakness
- Back pain – persistent aching or stiffness; sharp, localized pain; pain that radiates down the legs and into the feet; acute leg pain; leg numbness or weakness
- Hand pain – tingling, numbness or weakness
- Imbalance – an unsteady or jerky gait
- Bladder dysfunction and incontinence
- Difficulty moving
Raising the Bar
The tight coordination between Inova Spine Institute rehabilitation physicians, interventional pain management doctors and surgeons undeniably
benefits each individual patient, although this collaborative environment also serves to keep Inova on the leading edge of treatments for spine and back disorders. “As a united group we learn what’s best for patients — which treatments work best with which diagnoses, and which procedures show the best possible results,” according to Ronald Childs, MD, Medical Director, Inova Spine Institute, Inova Fairfax Hospital. “There’s a lot of information sharing, so we can evaluate results and better identify the right treatment for each patient within Inova Spine Institute.”