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UT Southwestern launches study of surgical option for treating diabetic and other neuropathies
Date:7/10/2008

DALLAS July 10, 2008 UT Southwestern Medical Center plastic surgeons and specialists in diabetes, neurology, pain management and rehabilitation are launching a cutting-edge study of peripheral nerve surgery to alleviate long-standing pain and numbness in patients with diabetic neuropathy.

Neuropathy is nerve-related pain, often associated with diabetes. The risk of developing neuropathy increases the longer a person has diabetes, and it is estimated that up to 40 percent of diabetics have some form of neuropathy. UT Southwestern is one of a few U.S. medical centers, and the only facility in North Texas, to offer surgery on peripheral nerves, which originate from the spine.

"Patients with neuropathy are often told that the problem is irreversible and that they cannot be helped," says Dr. Shai Rozen, assistant professor of plastic surgery. "Diabetic neuropathy is a complex problem caused by multiple factors. We think pressure on nerves may be one component responsible for the symptoms in certain patients. This is very important to emphasize: Surgery may be helpful only in patients we suspect have pressure on their nerves in addition to their neuropathy and is not for all neuropathy patients."

About one-third of patients with diabetic neuropathy have overlying compression of certain nerves in the leg that may worsen the pain and cause loss of sensation at the bottom of the foot. Several studies have demonstrated that the nerves may increase in diameter in diabetic patients. In this study, UT Southwestern investigators are hoping to show that by releasing pressure from the specific nerves of these patients, pain may be decreased and sensation improved.

"The concept of nerve compression in diabetics is not new," Dr. Rozen said. "Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical term used to describe compression of the median nerve at the wrist. It appears in approximately 2 percent of the general population, but in 15 percent to 30 perce
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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UT Southwestern launches study of surgical option for treating diabetic and other neuropathies
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