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Yeung Center for Endoscopic Spinal Surgery Established

Walter Eisner • Sun, March 24th, 2013

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Dr. Yeung with wife Eileen and Dr. Yonas
Dr. Yeung with wife Eileen and Dr. Yonas

Minimally invasive spine surgery pioneer Anthony Yeung, M.D., and his wife, Eileen, are donating $2.5 million to develop a comprehensive state-of-the-art spinal endoscopic surgical center at the University of New Mexico (UNM).

Dr. Yeung, founder of the Desert Institute for Spine Care in Phoenix, Arizona, is a graduate of the University’s School of Medicine. In the 1990s Dr. Yeung developed FDA cleared endoscopically guided laser spine techniques, complemented by surgical tools that have contributed to the art and science of spine surgery. Dr. Yeung is the executive director of IITS (The International Intradiscal Therapy Society), and past president of the World Congress of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Techniques.

Endoscopic surgery is not without controversy as training and reproducible results of various techniques have not always been consistent.

Dr. Yeung will continue his work in developing reproducible and evidence-based endoscopic laser spine care as a professor of spine surgery at UNM, teaching faculty, spine fellows, and residents, who will in turn offer patients minimally invasive technique. Physicians will benefit from having a one-of-a-kind facility to learn Dr. Yeung’s techniques, including the Yeung Endoscopic Spine Surgery (YESS) system.

“This gift is, in a small way, a means of bringing endoscopic spine surgery to a university setting, providing training and clinical research that will fit in with the new health mandate for increased access, and in a more cost effective way,” stated Dr. Yeung in a March 13, 2013 press release. “Endoscopic foraminal spine surgery offers the most minimally invasive surgical solution to visualizing and treating the pain generators without burning any bridges for traditional more invasive procedures that have higher surgical morbidity. It will greatly complement other specialized spine care providers, especially when working in a multi-disciplinary setting.”

Howard Yonas, M.D., chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, said Dr. Yeung has provided an opportunity to establish UNM as a unique academic site for endoscopic surgery. “Because we have a very cohesive multi-disciplinary group in our spine program, it is clear that each part of the breadth of [Dr. Yeung's] work will be embraced by one or more member(s) of the team.” He went on to state that he envisions the endoscopic spine center will be a center of excellence where physicians can learn what Dr. Yeung has accomplished and also push the field forward as new techniques emerge in endoscopic spine surgery.

Hansen Yuan, M.D., Professor Emeritus of the Department of Orthopaedic and Neurological Surgery at SUNY (State University of New York) and former president of NASS (North American Spine Society) and ISASS (International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery), commented, “Dr. Anthony Yeung and Mrs. Eileen Yeung are two very prominent individuals and well known in the Endoscopic Spinal Surgical field. Dr. Yeung has served as the catalyst for the development and progressive growth of the endoscopic approach to the lumbar spine as the least invasive approach to diagnose, decompress, stabilize, and even fuse the motion segments. He has brought together surgeons, inventors, and device companies to all work toward the success of his charge. His generous commitment to donate to his alma mater for the establishment of an academic Spinal Endoscopic Surgical Center with the most current innovations, has the purpose of educating doctors for the benefit of patients. I applaud Dr. and Mrs. Yeung for their vision and contribution.”

“The gift to UNM is a further demonstration of Tony’s unrelenting 30-year commitment to minimally invasive spine surgery. Tony’s leadership in this realm is known by all,” said Stephen Hochschuler, M.D., co-founder of the Texas Back Institute and former ISASS president.

The new center will be called, “The Dr. Anthony T. and Eileen K. Yeung Endoscopic Spine Center”.

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