In response to a recent segment on CBS Sunday Morning, which featured a new procedure for replacing Spinal Fusion, Dr. Scott Gottlieb weighs in on this topic. The segment discussed Dr. Kevin Pauza's (a founder of the Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler, Texas) new approach of injecting Fibrin into the troubled disc as a way of alleviating back pain and has stirred up much conversation among the million of back pain sufferers across the nation.
What are your overall thoughts about this procedure?
Dr. Gottlieb: It's too early to answer if Fibrin will be an effective procedure. Hopefully it is promising. Oftentimes in preliminary research many spinal technologies are invented and don't pan out the way we expect them to. This procedure would not be a treatment for all back pain sufferers but rather for specific issues. Neurologic issues, weakness, numbness and instability in the spine would most likely require more traditional treatments -like surgery.
Do you have any concerns about it?
Dr. Gottlieb: My concerns are the risks for patients. We don't know enough about the procedure yet. My biggest concern is whether or not the injections will leak out the disk and what the result of that may be. Will it cause scarring? Nerve damage? We just don't know what the complications will be.
Has anything like this been tried before?
Dr. Gottlieb: Many things have been injected but nothing has been successful thus far. To my knowledge this is the first time Fibrin is being injected.
Would you recommend patients to Dr. Pauza?
Dr. Gottlieb: I would need to see more of Dr. Pauza's studies on the use of Fibrin to treat patients. To see that the reported 1,000 procedures already completed, they were done reasonably. It is too premature to fully answer that question but yes, I would be cautious. I don't like to recommend patients to procedures that are experimental and not FDA approved.
I am cautiously optimistic if Fibrin will prove to be an effective treatment in the long run. Again, I am concerned with the risks associated with the procedure and that it is not an answer for all back pain sufferers. There are so many types of back pain, back surgeries and ways of dealing with it. Fibrin causes a clot which can prevent the disc from coming back into place naturally. - I don't know how effective this procedure will be but I would be very careful and selective about which patients would get this.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., founder of Gramercy Pain Management in Montebello, is also the Director of Pain Management at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.