Improving Clinical Outcomes of Lumbar Fusion for Osteoporotic Patients

Improving Clinical Outcomes of Lumbar Fusion for Osteoporotic Patients

Picture yourself building a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles with nothing but titanium-reinforced I-beams and concrete that is so brittle, even the slightest touch could make the foundation shatter. This is analogous to what spine surgeons are facing when patients with osteoporosis are in need of spinal fusion and/or fixation from trauma, degeneration, or spinal stenosis. Given the general surgical risk of spinal decompression and fusion compounded by the inability of the osteoporotic spine to act as anchor points for the spinal fusion, surgeons are in need of various multidisciplinary approaches in order to improve lumbar fusion outcome in this population subset. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the concerns that physicians face in assessing risk of patients with osteoporosis and the various therapeutic approaches for improving clinical outcome of spinal fusion.

Read More

Gene Mutations that Cause CIP

Gene Mutations that Cause CIP

Although the idea of and experiences associated with pain leave people with negative perceptions of it, feeling pain is essential for human survival. The experience of pain within the human body serves as an “alarm system,” and allows humans to recognize, react to, and in the future, avoid stimuli that create pain in the first place. Nociception is the process through which the sensory nervous system senses and perceives painful stimuli, which then allows for the triggering of appropriate reactions. Nociceptors, sensory receptors for painful stimuli, play a key role within this process. The nociceptive fibers within the skin, muscle, and skeletal structures, send signals back to their cell bodies in the spinal cord and form synapses in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord; the signal is then sent to the brain where it is processed within the cerebral cortex. There, a reaction to the pain is developed and a signal carrying that response is sent back to where the pain originated (Garland, 2012). Unfortunately, this vital process of pain perception can be inhibited by certain gene mutations that cause people to have a congenital insensitivity to pain, also known as CIP.

Read More

The Use of Tryptophan to Treat Depression

The Use of Tryptophan to Treat Depression

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental disorder of complex etiology. Synthesized with the amino acid tryptophan, the neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in mood regulation; specifically, decreased levels have been shown to contribute to an increase in symptoms of depression. In an attempt to challenge the status quo, current interventions for MDD must be explored, identifying the specific effects neurotransmitters have on depression, and determining how tryptophan could potentially be used to treat depression.

Read More

NTD and TCS: Malformations of the Spinal Cord in Children and Adults

NTD and TCS: Malformations of the Spinal Cord in Children and Adults

One of the most common and life-threatening birth defects are known as neural tube defects (NTDs). These defects are categorized by an opening in the spinal cord or brain during development. Additionally, a less common spinal cord disorder also occurs in adults called adult tethered cord syndrome. This may go undiagnosed until adulthood when pain, sensory, and motor problems occur in a patient’s back.

Read More