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.