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Recent research on the issue of spinal disc regeneration
Prof. Dr. Christian Woiciechowsky and his research team have published in the renowned journal "Spine", the latest results of their scientific work in the field of spinal disc regeneration. The aim of this research is to develop an implant that can be used after endoscopic disc surgery in the intervertebral disc space and brings the remaining disc to heal, so that it can fulfill its role of damping again. The studies were performed on a rabbit model. It was demonstrated by MRI that with help of the developed the implant, the state of the signal in the intervertebral disc six months after the operation was brought closer to its original state. This is an indirect sign of regeneration. These good MRI results were confirmed histologically, i.e. in tissue sections. Further tests are necessary before the first clinical studies are planned to confirm the reliability and safety of the implant.

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Disc regeneration in the rabbit model

The most important congresses in 2009

Spine Arthroplasty Society Meeting 2009

The main question is always, what are the latest trends? Have there been progresses in the regeneration of intervertebral discs? Can an intervertebral disc disease be “injected away”? Minimally invasive techniques are well-advanced. Of course, the doctor and the patient do not want to have major surgery, no major cuts. But the road is wide, and as doctors we must solve the problems of our patients with the current methods. But there is good news. There are more and more dynamic systems but also dorsal, i.e. the fusion operation is often no longer necessary. The spine remains mobile. In addition endoscopic procedures have improved and are safer, i.e. the effects of spinal surgery can be minimized. The spine surgery is very promising, in the hands of a skilled surgeon and can often terminate years of conservative treatment with high doses of pain medication through a one-hour operation.

The most important congresses in 2008

Spine Innovations I in Dresden 2nd – 4th October

This was a very exciting meeting. The latest innovations in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery were presented. I had the honor to hold a lecture on the endoscopic spine surgery and also lead a workshop on the subject. The improvements of instruments and endoscopes as well as the monitors have clearly increased the detail and brilliance and allow more complicated operations to be carried out endoscopically. The endoscopic lumbar disc surgery is becoming more of a routine. The safety of the cervical dorsal and ventral endoscopic surgery has increased significantly. It is certainly foreseeable that the surgery will more and more happen on the monitor. The developments are very good sign for the patient as this pushes postoperative pain and scarring more and more in the background.

Spineweek in Geneva 26th – 31st May

This was the most important European Spine Congress. It is always needed to follow up close the latest developments in spine surgery and to actively participate. It was therefore very important to me to participate in this Congress. My special attention was paid to the artificial disc for the cervical spine. Our study meeting was very intense and the exchange of experiences was very prolific. The company Aesculap, which produces the Activ-C prosthesis, is very keen to keep close contact with the surgeons to improve their products constantly. New instruments have been introduced, that make the implantation of the prosthesis secure, always in an effort to achieve the best for the patient.

Other topics included the rear stabilization of the cervical spine in the narrowing of the spinal canal. I could actively share my knowledge in the workshop to other colleagues. It was also a good feeling to share experience with others and benefit from the experience of others.

There were also many new trends in biotechnology processes of the spinal disc regeneration and bone formation. It would certainly be ideal to solve problems caused by the injection of substances to be able to simply replace the broken tissue. But it is still a long way until this concept can be realized.


The Spineweek 2008 in Geneva

Spine Arthroplasty Society Meeting in Miami 6th - 9th May

This was the largest conference on issues of the intervertebral disc prosthesis, dynamic posterior stabilization and everything that has to do with the conservation movement in the spine. We discussed the latest trends and problems with the disc replacement surgery. Due to improvements of the implants many teething problems have already been overcome. For example, several large studies have shown that the intervertebral disc prosthesis is showing great success regarding pain reduction, in a particular patient group, and better is than the fusion, i.e. stiffening. This applies to both the cervical and the lumbar spine.

Furthermore, various so-called dynamic dorsal stabilization systems have been introduced i.e. systems that are implanted from the back to relieve both the facet joints as well as the injured spinal discs. These are used when pain is caused in the spine and the facet joints. The efficiency of these systems however still has to be shown in practice.

The minimally invasive and endoscopic procedures used in the early stages of degeneration where the question of an intervertebral disc replacement is not yet in discussion, got great attention. The purpose of this procedure is to eliminate pain and relieve neural structures. There was general agreement that it would be best if at this early stage, i.e. when there are first signs of wear, to have the possibility to regenerate the intervertebral disc, i.e. to put in its original condition. Until then, however, it is still a long way. My research goes into this direction and I was able to present the first results in a poster. This took a lot of attention.

The SAS 2008 in Miami - Pictures of the Congress