Surgery may help alleviate back pain

The back surgery that Dr. William Tally specializes in is so new, only 12 doctors in America have the training to perform it.

Tally didn’t need the training – the Athens Orthopedic Clinic physician and two other doctors developed the new method for lower back surgery. Now, he’s training more and more doctors in what could become the gold standard procedure to alleviate back pain.

“It’s still very, very new, but the idea is the same as traditional lumbar surgery,” he said. “The difference is this (surgery) is minimally invasive.”

Typical lumbar fusion surgery involves a long incision, a bunch of disturbed muscles and tissues, and a long recovery. Tally makes five small incisions and gets straight to the damaged bone and nerve with an image guidance system.

Tally can complete the surgery in 45 minutes at an outpatient center. The recovery time is about the same as the traditional surgery, he said, but it is much smoother and easier.

“We’re focusing on instability, scoliosis or nerve compression problems,” he said. “Because the surgery is much less destructive and invasive, we can offer it to people who would normally have to live in pain.”

Patients experience back pain because one of the lumbar vertebrae starts pinching a nerve. To fix the problem, Tally goes in through one of the incisions and installs a bone implant with four screws to stabilize the area.

So far, in 1,500 surgeries in America – Tally has performed about 250 of them – there have been no major complications, he said.

“For this method to be proven, we’re going to need long-term data to show this is better,” Tally said. “It’s going to take a lot of time, but I think it will be the new standard. It’s not a revelation. It’s an evolution on what we’re doing now.”

Joe Vanhoose
The Athens Banner Herald
March 15, 2011

Athens Orthopedic Clinic

1765 Old West Broad St. Bldg. 2, Ste. 200,
Athens, Georgia 30606

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