MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Young athletes who play contact sports are at risk for a debilitating back injury. Now a new, minimally invasive procedure is helping them recover and get back in the game.
Nick Mucerino’s passion has always been hockey.
“My mom took me to a lot of the games and I kinda just developed a love for the sport,” Mucerino said.
But after a big hit on the ice, the 16-year-old started feeling severe pain in his lower back.
“The way I can describe it is somebody taking an ice pick down your spine,” Mucerino told Ivanhoe.
Turns out Mucerino suffered a pars fracture.
Allan D Levi MD, Ph.D., FACS, Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine explained, “The pars is a part of your spine. It can be fractured after repetitive stress and strain, particularly after sports.”
It’s a common injury in young athletes who play football, soccer, hockey or ballet.
Dr. Levi said, “In fact, some of the fractures will actually heal on their own.”
But when Mucerino’s injury didn’t improve after six months of physical therapy, he was offered a unique procedure.
“It’s a technique where you basically use a minimally invasive approach to put screws across the fracture site,” Dr. Levi said.
Dr. Levi developed a procedure that uses two small incisions.
“We put a pin through the fracture. Then we get an intraoperative cat scan to make sure the pin is exactly where we want it to be,” he explained.
Screws are placed across the fractured bone to promote fusion. Six months after his surgery, Mucerino was ready to get back on the ice. Now enrolled in law school, nick still loves to get in the rink and play. His back pain is gone.
“It hasn’t limited me in any way,” Mucerino said.
Dr. Levi said there is less blood loss and less dissection of the spine muscles so patients have less pain. Most patients go home the next day after surgery and undergo about three months of physical therapy.