Sophisticated Imaging Helps With Back Surgery Pain

August 15, 2009

People with recurrent back pain after spine surgery have new hope for relief thanks in part to sophisticated imaging at Beaumont Hospitals that lets doctors “see” inside the body more clearly.

The imaging combines low-dose CT scans of the problem area (instead of the entire spine, in an effort to minimize the radiation dose) with 3-D SPECT – single-photon emission computed tomography – bone images along with computer software that fuses the resulting images together to get rid of distortions. This helps to create a 3-D picture of what is happening within the bones in the spine and any hardware the spine surgeon may have used to stabilize them.

The hardware can include metal bone screws, rods and plates. While the hardware is used to help stabilize the spine, an unhappy consequence is that it also causes the distortions on conventional imaging such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI, which can be used to help pinpoint the source of the postoperative pain. More…