Dr. Philip Yuan Testing Innovative Approach to Back Pain
Biloine W. Young • Mon, September 16th, 2013
Can zapping the basivertebral nerve, located inside the bony part of the spine, get rid of low back pain for good? Doctors with Memorial Orthopaedic Surgical Group in Los Angeles hope to find out.
“All pain is derived from nerves, but there can be a nerve within the bone itself called the basivertebral nerve that we think may be the cause or the source of discogenic back pain,” said Philip Yuan, M.D. Yuan is investigating a new procedure in which doctors use a small radio-frequency probe, inserted through the back, to deaden the nerves.
“We burn those nerve endings and enervate that painful disk and remove the probe. The patient will wake up with a little band aid on his skin, and that’s it,” said Yuan. The trial is called the SMART Clinical Study. Researchers hope to recruit 200 patients nationwide for the minimally invasive, one-hour procedure.
Yuan says earlier European trials showed it can be quite effective. “I was skeptical at first, but the results are so good. It’s truly a minimally invasive surgery and patients are doing well,” he said. Researchers are looking for participants who have had low back pain for at least six months, those who have not responded to conservative treatment, and those who have not had previous surgery. Participants also need to be between the ages of 25 and 70.
Yuan’s practice is based in Long Beach. There are two local sites for the SMART Trial, including one in Los Angeles. Individuals interested in additional information on the SMART study can visit www.smartclinicalstudy.com, or call (888) 978-8396.