ment leaking out of the vertebral body into the spinal canal, potentially leading to paralysis.
Wong removed the tumor prior to vertebroplasty on 28 patients using the plasma-mediated procedure commonly known as the ‘Coblation SpineWand.’ Following the partial removal of the tumor, bone cement was injected into the cavity created by the process in order to stabilize the fractured bone fragments. The researchers report that all 28 patients treated in the study experienced decreased pain and improved function.
‘I never dreamed it would be this successful,’ said Wong, adding that when first approached the ArthroCare Corporation, manufacturers of the Coblation process, they were skeptical. The device was already in use for other medical applications, such as ear, nose and throat surgery, and arthroscopic applications. ‘Generally, a cancerous lesion of the spine can eat away at the bone, which can cause a mass in the spinal canal resulting in paralysis or great pain,’ Wong said.
The process first removes tumor bulk, then delivers cement to strength the vertebrae, which reduces pain.
‘It's like creating a cast to a fracture,’ said Wong, ‘but in the inside of the body instead of on the outside.’
Using the process doesn't preclude other treatments, such as chemo or radiation therapy. Though the process doesn't cure the cancer, it can add to the quality of life for the patient.
‘Even in patients with a malignancy, it doesn't mean it's the end of their life. This procedure allows them to resume activities, like walking or even rollerblading, that they enjoyed before,’ said Wong, adding, ‘Quality of life is what's key.’
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