Precision Spine Imaging and Intervention: Guiding Therapy with Precision Spine Diagnoses

Disorders of the spine have a tremendous impact on society—directly through the morbidity of afflicted individuals and indirectly through lost productivity and increased health care costs. In the United States, an estimated 149 million work days are lost every year because of low back pain.

Spinal injections of steroids have been widely used in the management of back pain for more than 50 years. Image-guided spine injections, using contemporary techniques, can provide significant benefits in relation to pain relief, disability, and quality of life in these patients, while identifying the specific pain generator and helping to avoid surgery. These injections have a low-risk profile compared with alternative treatments and are effective when used as part of a multimodal treatment plan that includes physical therapy, exercise, and activity modifications.

This month, I will be joined by Cynthia Chin, MD, professor of clinical radiology and neurosurgery and director of the UCSF Spinal Pain Management Center, and Aaron Clark, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery in the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery, for a presentation on how precision imaging is shaping the future of diagnosing and treating back and neck pain. The event is one lecture in the six-week series “Personalized Medicine Powered by Precision Imaging,” presented as part of UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine’s Mini Medical School for the Public.

The lecture will address the clinical challenges of diagnosing and treating spine related pain, role of precision imaging for diagnosing the specific pain generator, and the value of image-guided injections for providing therapeutic relief. Because the event is designed for the public, we’ll include fundamental information on important considerations of image guided spinal and peripheral nerve injections for confirming diagnosis and providing therapeutic relief, including:

  • How patients are selected
  • Which procedures are available, and how they are performed
  • The key role of image guidance in performance of injections
  • Contraindications and risks
  • How outcomes are assessed
  • How success is measured

Precision spine and back imaging provides an opportunity to play a part in how disorders of the spine are affecting our society. We hope that the greater public will join us on Oct. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. to learn more about how precision medicine will continue to enhance diagnosis, improve disease monitoring, and optimize treatment for individual patients with spinal disorders.

UCSF Department of Biomedical Imaging is happy to provide complimentary tickets to all guests of our Osher Mini Medical School sessions this fall (valued at $15/ticket). Please email us at [email protected] to let us know which course you would like to attend and, we will register you for that course. Each class will be held in the School of Nursing, Room N225, at 513 Parnassus, accessible through the Medical Science Building.

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