Medicine: Back Surgery Without Stitches

A novel operation for ruptured disks saves patients money and pain

Lower back pain, as prevalent as the common cold, is the price human beings pay for walking upright. In most cases, simple treatments like bed rest, exercise and pain-killers bring relief. But many sufferers are not so lucky. If one or more of their spinal disks -- pulpy masses that cushion pairs of vertebrae -- rupture and press on nerve roots, the pain that radiates from the back and down the legs can be excruciating and disabling. For many the only treatment is surgical removal of part of the blown disk, a major operation called a laminectomy that requires general anesthesia,...

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