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Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

Minimally Invasive Surgery Gives Back Pain Patients New Hope

“SiFusion” only available at The Nebraska Medical Center

Photo of Dianna Marshall walking down the hall It was only a few steps. But the steps were a long time coming.

“That was tremendous! I didn’t think I could do it,” said Dianna Marshall after taking a short walk down the hall of the neurological sciences clinic. Those steps were the first she’d taken without pain or the help of a walker in years.

“You did awesome,” said her surgeon, Peter Lennarson, MD, medical director of the spine center at The Nebraska Medical Center.

Three weeks before, Dr. Lennsarson performed SiFusion surgery on Marshall. She was the first patient in Nebraska to have the procedure done. It provided a new alternative to sacroiliac (back of the hip) pain that had haunted her for years. The pain had to the point that she could not sit, stand or even lie down comfortably.

“The pain had gotten worse in recent years, in my hip and into my legs,” Marshall said. “It was a burning, cramping pain and there was nothing I could do to get relief. It was just terrible.”

Dr. Lennarson said pain in the sacroiliac joint is more common than many might believe. Until recently, there were few treatment options beyond injections and pain medication. Surgical treatments have been done before, but Dr. Lennarson said the complex open surgery was often painful for patients and had a poor success rate.

Operating Room Photo “This procedure really changes things quite a bit,” he said of the new procedure.

The surgeon makes a small incision, and guided by x-ray images, places three titanium rods to stabilize the sacroiliac joint. A minimally invasive approach is a huge step forward.

“This is took what was a very invasive and difficult surgery and made it shorter with lower blood loss, lower infection rates and quicker recovery times,” Dr. Lennarson explained. He said patients typically stay in the hospital only one day after surgery.

Complete recovery can take several months. Dianna Marshall was already looking forward to an active summer a few weeks after her surgery.

“I love to walk and to do yard work,” she said. “My husband and I like to hike and camp. I’ve been limited; I haven’t been able to do that in the last few years. I’m just looking to get my life back.”