New Approach Reduces Risks for Older PatientsSponsored By University of Miami Health System

Dr. Michael Wang is a neurosurgeon at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. He practices at UHealth Tower on the University of Miami Health System’s medical campus in Miami. To make an appointment, call 305-243-6946. For more about spinal surgery, click here to visit the University of Miami’s health news blog.


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Ruth Seltzer is an avid golfer who has been out of the game for three years because of pain in her back. “My active lifestyle came to a standstill,” she says. “I couldn’t golf. I couldn’t garden. I couldn’t drive. The pain was unbearable.”

Ruth’s condition, called spondylolisthesis, is a dislocation of the vertebrae that can lead to stenosis, nerve pain, and back pain. For most patients it is treatable with surgery, but some doctors hesitate to operate on older patients. At 91, Ruth had her own concerns about the potential risks, including a fear of going under general anesthesia.

She turned to Dr. Michael Wang, a neurosurgeon at UHealth, University of Miami Health System who has developed a unique approach to performing spinal surgery on high-risk patients. “As patients get older, surgery gets risker and anesthesia is more complicated,” says Dr. Wang. “But these are often patients who need the surgery the most.”

Dr. Wang and his team worked for 15 years to develop a method of spinal surgery with fewer risks. The approach combines six components, including sedation without intubation rather than general anesthesia. In addition, Novocain is used to control pain, and the procedure is performed with minimally invasive endoscopic techniques.

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For the past four years, Dr. Wang’s team has offered this alternative spinal surgery option with great success. “We think it’s going to change the way surgery is done in the future,” says Dr. Wang. “The hope is that we can offer options to everyone who comes to see us at University of Miami Health System.”

Today, four months after her surgery, Ruth is walking, driving, and socializing again. She is plans to return to golf soon. “I am really a happy camper because I am pain free and I’m starting to live my life again,” she says.


Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on CBS-4. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.

Above content provided by UHealth, the University of Miami Health System

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