Sunday, July 21, 2013 —
PINEHURST – In January 2007, Candi Pearce spent 10 days in a Florida hospital after a 10-hour surgery for the chronic pain in her lower back, the result of a fall the previous October.
Pearce left the hospital with a back reinforced by cages, plates and screws, but still in pain. She tried prescription medications supplemented by over-the-counter pain relievers, steroid shots, chiropractic, radiofrequency and acupuncture. Nothing provided anything more than temporary relief.
An unexpected conversation with the friend of a friend at a Florida dog show eventually led Pearce to Charles S. Haworth, M.D., a neurosurgeon at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, and a minimally invasive procedure that immediately relieved her pain.
“As soon as I woke up (from surgery), the pain all the way down to my feet was gone,” Pearce says.
“(The surgery has made) a huge, dramatic difference.”
Dr. Haworth has used the same innovative technique to treat patients with spinal stenosis, ruptured discs and vertebrae that have slipped out of place since September of last year at Moore Regional. A pioneer in the procedure, he uses three-dimensional images and computer navigation software that allow him to take his surgical tools exactly where they need to be – without the need for a long incision.
“Before we had these new tools and techniques, spine surgeons used to think that a long recovery was unavoidable and that patients’ ongoing back pain and stiffness were likely but necessary risks,” he says.
“Now most of our patients are up and around the next day and back to their normal activities months earlier than before. Even I’m amazed by the advances we’re able to offer patients today.”
In addition to complex software and real-time three-dimensional images, spinal navigation technology uses a pencil-like pointing device to map the spine in a major advancement that works like the GPS navigation systems used in vehicles and cell phones. During a procedure, the surgeon places the pointing device at various locations along the patient’s skin directly above the spine and the device transmits the locations to a computer, which maps each point onto three-dimensional video images.