The key to treating back pain is diagnosing the problem as soon as possible. Los Angeles spine surgeons and researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Biomedical Imaging Research Institute are testing an imaging technique that could make it easier to determine if a patient has a degenerative back condition without the discomfort of some of the current diagnostic procedures (such as the injection of dyes into discs) being used on patients.
The imaging technique being developed by Cedars-Sinai Researcher Center is to identify biomarkers, substances whose presence indicates certain health conditions. By identifying these biomarkers, doctors could clearly determine the specific source of back pain while reducing the need for further testing.
Since lower back pain affects about 40 percent of the population at some point, this is where the research is focused. One such condition being studied is intervertebral disc degeneration, where symptoms may not be present for several years. The new imaging process, if it proves successful, could identify the affected disc(s) even before a patient experiences any pain from the condition, allowing for early intervention.
In controlled testing on select patients, the new technique has shown early signs of success. Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the new imaging procedure creates a map of a patient’s lower spinal region. In the studies, MRI imaging was used to identify specific biomarkers to determine the source of pain. Researchers then followed the progress of each patient to determine the accuracy of the results.
Researchers hope the new imaging technique will eventually make the diagnostic process virtually pain-free. The team, which includes medical director of the Spine Institute, Dr. Hyun Bae, is also researching stem cell-based therapies and procedures. In the future, such procedures may be used to remedy spinal disc problems identified with the new imaging technique to reduce the reliance on more invasive surgical procedures.
Dr. Hyun Bae is a conservative, board-certified orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles and has been the first of five physicians nationwide to be awarded a significant $2.4 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health in order to study this new imaging technique. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Bae or to learn more about options for non-surgical and surgical spine treatments, call (310) 828-7757 today.