HOUSTON (June 02, 2007)

Accomplished spinal surgeon, Mohammad Etminan, MD, will demonstrate the safety and efficacy of an anterior cervical decompression and spine fusion procedure during a live, global Webcast broadcast from Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital in Houston on Tuesday, June 19, at 5:30 p.m. CST. The procedure is designed to alleviate pain and other physical effects associated with cervical spinal stenosis, a serious spinal disorder characterized by deterioration of the spinal cord usually as a result of aging.

Cervical spinal stenosis is a disorder that causes the spinal column, the bony tube that protects the spinal cord, to narrow, putting the spinal cord at risk of getting compressed. As a direct result of the narrowing of the spinal column, patients can develop injury to the spinal cord and nerve function, known as cervical myelopathy. Cervical spinal stenosis most commonly affects males, although women also suffer from the disorder, and typically begins for persons in their 40s to 60s.

"Non-surgical options for people with disc protrusions in the neck include rest, heat, pain medications and physiotherapy. When non-surgical treatment options fail, surgery is often the necessary next step," said Dr. Etminan.

During the live Webcast, Dr. Etminan will make an incision in the front of the neck. The esophagus and trachea are moved aside to expose the disc. The affected disc is removed in its entirety, and after the pressure from the spinal cord and nerves have been eliminated, the graft is placed into the cavity. A plate and screws are placed to support the spine over the next several months as bone growth connects the vertebra. This fusion eliminates movement at the affected site and, in most cases, significantly reduces or eliminates pain, allowing the patient to resume normal activities.

Bone-graft material may be obtained from the hip, but Dr. Etminan and his team use a synthetic bone-growth hormone instead, eliminating the need for two incisions.

"Because patients often experience significant post-surgical pain when bone is taken from the hip, we eliminate that step," explained Dr. Etminan.

Because cervical spinal stenosis occurs over a long period of time, symptoms usually develop slowly. Patients with cervical stenosis usually experience an initial change in the way they walk due to the pressure on the spinal cord in the neck that can affect the nerves and muscles in the legs. Leg symptoms include: weakness, difficulty walking, frequent falls or the need to use a cane or walker as the disease progresses. Urinary urgency is also common. In late cases, bladder and bowel incontinence can occur.

Other common symptoms include pain in the neck or arms, including: weakness, stiffness or clumsiness in the hands when performing basic motor skills such as writing or buttoning a shirt. Numbness of the hands, shoulder weakness and loss of grip are also attributed to this disorder.

Serving as online moderator during the live Webcast will be Physician Assistant Ajay Thomas from Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. The moderator will receive e-mailed questions from viewers worldwide and relay them to Dr. Etminan, who will answer selected, appropriate inquiries during the surgery. Archived streaming video of the procedure will be available for at least one year, and Dr. Etminan and his team will continue to receive and answer e-mailed questions for one week following the surgery.

The program is the thirteenth in a series sponsored by Memorial Hermann Health System, giving medical professionals and consumers the opportunity to view cutting-edge surgical procedures live on the Internet from anywhere in the world.

For more information, contact Media Relations.