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A New Solution
Thanks to the NuVasive technology utilized by Drs. Ajeya Joshi, Frank Kuwamura and Vazquez-Seoane of the South Texas Spinal Clinic, patients with debilitating pain have more hope than ever.
By: Rose Mary Budge, Photography: styleGIO
Spine surgery can be scary. It wasn’t something Mariscela F. Gaona wanted to consider even though spinal woes were causing her almost constant pain, and she couldn’t walk without a very noticeable limp. “I took shots and tried to find non-surgical answers for my problems,” Gaona says. “But nothing seemed to work. A day or so after the shots, the pain would return, and I’d be suffering again.”
Finally, her husband, Raul Gaona, an internist, said the situation couldn’t go on. Her son, Raul Gaona Jr. – also a physician – agreed. Mom was outnumbered and had to agree with the men in the family that it was time – way past time, in fact – to take action.
So the Gaonas went looking for a spine surgeon and found Dr. Ajeya P. Joshi, a proponent of a minimally invasive/minimally disruptive procedure called “extreme lateral interbody fusion,” or XLIF, which was developed by a spinal-implant company called NuVasive in collaboration with Dr. Luiz Pimenta of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The procedure sounded promising – and to Mariscela Gaona, it sounded less intimidating than the traditional methods suggested by some medical professionals she had previously consulted. Gathering courage and buoyed by Joshi’s expertise and enthusiasm, she decided to give it a try. And happily, it turned out to be absolutely right for her situation.
“I still have to use a cane, but I’m pain-free now,” she reports. “It’s like having a whole new life.”
While the XLIF procedure was ideal for Gaona and can significantly lessen collateral damage, which can be an issue in traditional surgeries, it isn’t necessarily right for every patient. Joshi warns that much depends on the patient’s spinal condition and the location of the spinal problems.
It has proven to be an especially powerful tool for lower-back surgery and is highly effective in combating degenerative scoliosis and spondylolisthesis. But as with most surgeries, there are risks involved, and therefore, pros and cons must be carefully weighed by both the patients involved and their physicians.
How does the procedure work?
The method, which results in real medical miracles in many cases, involves side entry to the surgical site rather than access from the back or the front, thereby allowing a more direct approach to intervertebral disc space with less area to transverse to get to the spine. As a general rule, the patient also experiences less tissue trauma, less scarring, less blood loss and less post-operative discomfort.
The Spine Hospital of South Texas
18600 N. Hardy Oak · San Antonio, Texas 78258