Eisenhower Medical Center announced Monday that its spine center received approval to participate in an FDA study examining a new device that hospital officials say could be the first of its kind to treat a degenerative spinal disease.

The TOPS system, a mechanical device designed to restore spinal motion in all directions, will be studied by Eisenhower Desert Orthopedic Center, one of 30 spine centers in the country and the only one in California to take part in the study.

The device’s efficacy and safety will be examined for its potential to treat degenerative Grade 1 spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis, which occurs when a patient’s vertebra slips, causing pain and neurological injuries.

“We are very excited to be selected as investigators in the TOPS System study because it offers a unique opportunity for patients who meet the study’s criteria to potentially receive a motion-preserving device for the surgical treatment of degenerative spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis,” said Dr. A. David Tahernia, a board certified orthopedic surgeon at Eisenhower.

The study will involve patients either undergoing surgery with the device or undergoing lumbar spinal fusion, which involves permanently locking two vertebrae into place, but limits range of motion. Patients will be randomly placed into the two groups, with a 67 percent likelihood of undergoing surgery with the TOPS system device.

“There are countless numbers of people suffering from debilitating back pain caused by a slipped disc or narrowing of the spine that must either manage the pain through physical therapy and injections or undergo surgery,” Tahernia said. “We hope that this study will provide us the scientific data needed to support the continued use of technologies that aim to correct underlying spinal conditions while helping to restore range of motion.”

Study participants must be experiencing radiating leg pain, greater leg or buttock pain than back pain, severe pain after walking as little as 100 yards or two minutes, and/or pain that reduces when sitting, bending forward, or leaning over a shopping cart. Those symptoms could be signs of degenerative spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and additional spinal conditions.

To learn more about the TOPS system, call (760) 773-4545.

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