Help for Severe Spinal Pain: The Bonescalpel

Nine million Americans suffer neck pain brought on by the narrowing of the space around the spinal cord.

The risk of problem increases as we age, but now one doctor is fighting back with a unique tool.

Sandra Lee can't play the piano like she used to because of severe spinal pain.

Cervical stenosis in her neck has taken away her coordination and more.

Sandra Lee says, "I had no feeling whatsoever throughout my whole body."

Orthopaedic surgeon Doctor Jeffrey Cantor is using a new device called a Bonescalpel.

Cantor says, "It is an ultrasonic tool to essentially melt the bone."

He is performing a Laminoplasty on Sandra's neck.

Cantor, "So essentially what we are going to do is take the pinched area of the cord and open it so it is no longer compressed."

The Bonescalpel can help relieve numbness and pain through a one and half inch incision on the back of the neck without limiting mobility.

During surgery, the device causes less bleeding and less damage surrounding tissue and muscle compared to the traditional technique.

Cantor: "Our goal is to take this area and make it actually larger than this area down here."

Just days after surgery Sandra's walking without a walker and she is hopeful the feeling will soon return to her limbs.  The doctor says there is a 60% chance that will happen.

Several studies found the Bonescalpel is safe and effective for spinal surgery.

New research also found the precision ultra-sonic device is safe and effecient in harvesting bones to be used in reconstructive surgeries for head and neck cancer patients.

BACKGROUND:   Cervical spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck.  When the spinal canal narrows, it can compress and squeeze the nerve roots where they leave the spinal cord, or it can injure the spinal cord itself.  Seven vertebrae between the head and chest make up the cervical spine.  Squeezing the nerves in the cervical spine can change how the spinal cord functions and can cause stiffness, pain, and numbness in the neck, arms, and legs.  Cervical spinal stenosis is normally caused by age-related changes in the spinal canal shape; therefore, it is most common in people older than 50.  As we age, the sponge like discs between the bones of the spine bulge out farther than normal, a process called "bulging of the discs."  Aging can also cause destruction of tissues that cover bones and excessive growth of the bones in joints.  (Source:

SYMPTOMS:  Many people who are older than 50 have at least some narrowing of the spinal canal; however, they don't always experience symptoms.  Cervical spinal stenosis usually doesn't cause symptoms unless the spinal cord or nerves are being squeezed.  When that happens, the symptoms build gradually over time and can include:  stiffness, pain, or numbness in the neck, shoulder, legs, hands, or arms; balance and coordination problems like tripping while walking.  (Source:
TREATMENT:  Mild to moderate cases of spinal stenosis' symptoms can usually be controlled with medicine to relieve pain, physical therapy, and exercise to maintain flexibility and strength.  If the symptoms are severe, there is progressive weakness of the muscles, or the pictures of the spine show that the spinal cord or nerves are being squeezed, and then the doctor might recommend decompressive surgery to relieve pressure.  The surgery can be done from the front or the back of the neck.  It consists of removing some of the bone, disc, and tissue that may be pressing on the nerve roots.  (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Cervical laminoplasty is a surgical technique that removes pressure from the spinal cord in the neck.  It is performed through an incision in the back of the neck.  Instead of removing the bone and compressive structure, the bone overlying the spinal cord is partially cut on both sides.  This creates a hinge on one side of the bone and a small opening on the other side.  The bone is then moved into the "open" position by elevating it on the open side.  This will increase space for the spinal cord and it will relieve pressure.  (Source:  Traditionally, bone removal in spine surgeries are done with hand instruments.  The ultrasonic BoneScalpel increases safety, reduces bone bleeding, produces precise cuts as narrow as about .5 mm, and increases efficiency while reducing O.R. time.  The ultrasonic blade enables precision osteotomies and bone removal while facilitating soft tissues.  Studies show that in spine surgery, the BoneScalpel can be used to cut vertebral elements while protecting the underlying dura and neural structures.   (Source:

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