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Discal biacuplasty

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Lower Back Pain
I had disc biacuplasty on March 6, at GW University Hospital's surgery center in Washington, DC, to fix a torn disc. I have a few more degenerative discs, but my doctor thinks the one causing the pain is at the first level, so that's where we went first. My doctor, Mehul Desai, heads up the pain management center at GW, and after several spinal injections that didn't work, six months of physical therapy, and lots of meds, we decided that the biacuplasty might be the best option for now. Dr. Desai is very smart and aggressive, and I have a great deal of trust in his judgment. GW has a terrific team, and as the procedure is still pretty rare here (my doctor is the only pain management specialist between Richmond and Baltimore that does the procedure), we were both interviewed by the health reporters for a story on one of the local news stations, WJLA, and they filmed the procedure.

Much of the success of the procedure depends on the patient, since full compliance is absolutely necessary. Good candidates for the biacuplasty tend to be more active, have never had back surgery (thus, no scar tissue around the affected areas), and are very vigilant when it comes to their recovery. They tend to be very conscientious and work hard in physical therapy, as well. I'm 52 years old, and have been pretty active my entire adult life, until the serious pain began about two years ago.

For me, the post-op period has been one of constant (and sometimes fearful) mindful behavior: no bending, no twisting, and being very conscious of every move. I have been wearing the back brace at night, and at first, it's hard to get used to, but after two years of pain, I can get used to anything. You tend to cringe at any new pain, trying to figure out if it's "new" pain, or "old" pain.

My insurance, BC/BS (CareFirst) will be paying about 80 percent for the procedure, but I had to get a referral from one of my doctors to keep down the cost of what I will be paying out of pocket, which is about $1,062.

The surgical brace (mine is from RS Medical) is the RS-LFS lumbar functional system), and those are VERY expensive: costing it out, it's $1,010, of which I have to pay $413.00.

I have a lot of faith in my doctor, and he seemed very pleased with how the procedure went. Of course, we'll know more in a few weeks.

My sister is a surgical nurse at U.Va. hospital in Charlottesville, VA, and she came up to help me through the procedure as well as to watch it, since they don't perform it down at her hospital. The team let her put on scrubs and come into the OR, which was a wonderful accommodation to me, and made me feel a lot more relaxed.


  • Thanks for posting about this procedure. Please keep us informed as to your progress. I love hearing about new developments in the spine world.

    I gather you did not have sciatic pain?
  • Yes, indeed, I had roving sciatica, and never knew when I would wake up and that pain would shoot down my right leg, and radiate in my knees and ankles. The pain I normally have -- that power back pain where you can't twist, and you feel as if your spine is being pulled off your pelvis -- is chronic. I have been on Tramadol (Ultram) for about two years, and this has been a huge help. It works moderately for the pain, but the most important component it has is something that works on the central nervous system in which your PERCEPTION of pain is different. It has a mood elevator, which has been invaluable in so many ways. I have to get up every morning for work, so would take the Tramadol at 6am.

    In December, I was in an accident on the Metro, which gave me sciatica for a week. What happened is that the escalator wasn't moving, so when a bunch of us were walking up the stairs, they started moving very fast, backwards. We were all thrown to the bottom, and I landed on my right jaw and coccyx. Then, the sciatica began!

    For sciatica, the best thing to do is to keep moving. I learned a lot of exercises to help manage it: the stretching, the yoga position cobra, where you're on your stomach, and you lift yourself up with your palms flat on the floor, and a few others. Do you have sciatica?

    Very best,

  • Hello Grenadier, I also have Dr. Desai at the GW Pain Center and share your assessment of his abilities and methods. I am waiting for the insurance company to approve biacuplasty. The insurance company turned me down the first time I asked, but after that I also had that painful test you referred to, the discogram. Now Dr. Desai's office is appealing the earlier refusal because after that awful test they now have more evidence that I could benefit from the procedure. I have the same insurance company that you do. My problem is at L5/L4/S1 but I am not as sure of my diagnosis as you are.

    You had the procedure in March and it is now October-- are you recovered? Are you still in the brace? I am so tired of the constant pain and the waiting, waiting, waiting. I miss my old self since I got hurt.

    Any info you can provide would be so appreciated, and of course I wish you and all you others who have posted all the best.
  • jmd0318jjmd0318 Posts: 1
    edited 05/14/2015 - 6:34 AM
    I had this procedure almost 2 weeks ago. Is anyone still active in this post?

    Note Look at the timestamp on the previous posts. You will see that there has not been any activity to this thread in a long time.
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