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Spinal Stenosis

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery In The Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area spine surgeon Robert Rovner, MD says a new minimally invasive procedure is effective for many patients suffering from back pain and associated leg pain while preserving range of motion.

minimally invasive spine surgery helps bay Area woman

Dr. Robert Rovner’s patient Kim rides her bike after minimally invasive spine surgery.

“ In many cases the pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis may now be treated using an alternative to spinal fusion,” says Dr. Rovner. The procedure uses a titanium clip called “Coflex” to stabilize the spine after a laminectomy is performed to relieve pressure on the nerves. “This less invasive alternative preserves range of motion with the added benefit of a rapid recovery.”

Dr. Rovner’s patient Kim is in her early 50’s and is extremely active. She participates in marathon bike rides and loves hiking through rugged mountain ranges. But a few years ago Kim began to suffer from intense back pain that became so intense that she was sidelined from enjoying her favorite physical activities..

Kim was experiencing nerve pain that radiated from her lower back down to her legs. “The only time I wasn’t in pain was when I was sitting,” she says. Dr. Rovner diagnosed Kim with lumbar spinal stenosis which was causing vertebrae in her lower back to become unstable, creating pressure on the surrounding nerves.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is usually treated with a procedure called a “laminectomy” which removes a section of bone from the vertebrae to decompress the nerves. A laminectomy is usually followed with spinal fusion to stabilize the spine. Instead, Dr. Rovner recommended a less invasive procedure using the “Coflex” device. “The Coflex was implanted after a laminectomy procedure to hold Kim’s vertebrae in position while allowing them to flex, preserving range of motion rather than fusing the vertebrae together,” says Dr. Rovner.

“The first patient I treated with the Coflex procedure was back to playing tennis and golf two weeks after his surgery,” says Dr. Rovner. “The rapid recovery and return to function with Coflex is something that I’m not used to seeing with patients in whom I’ve done either a simple laminectomy alone or laminectomy combined with fusion.”

Kim plans to return to some long-delayed adventures. ”I’m going to be doing some backpacking and I’m planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with my son,” she says.

Dr. Rovner says that not all patients are candidates for the Coflex clip. ”Patients with more advanced stenosis may not be candidates for Coflex and may require more extensive surgery or fusion, so it’s important to consult with a board certified spine surgeon who offers several alternatives for treatment depending on each patient’s condition.”

For more information on non-surgical therapies and surgical treatment for back or neck pain and injuries call the office of Robert Rovner, MD at Disc & Spine in Danville, CA at 925.275.0700 Visit


Bay Area Spine Surgeon Robert Rovner, MD Offers Alternative Stenosis Treatment

Dr. Robert Rovner uses Coflex as an alternative treatment for spinal stenosis — 5 highlights
Written by Allison Sobczak | Friday, 15 April 2016

Robert A. Rovner, MD, a spine surgeon with Danville, Calif.-based Disc & Spine, is offering Coflex as an alternative treatment to spinal fusion for spinal stenosis.
Here are five highlights:

1. Dr. Rovner was recently featured on KGO 7 News along with the patient whom he performed the Coflex procedure on.

2. Coflex is a clip-like titanium implant that is placed in the patient immediately after a laminectomy is completed.

3. A recent five-year randomized prospective outcome study, published in the International Journal of Spine Surgery, showed Coflex patients had equal or better outcomes than those who were treated with a combination of laminectomy and fusion. Additionally, there were fewer revision surgeries necessary in the Coflex group during the five years of study.

4. Dr. Rovner warned that patients with more advanced stenosis may not be candidates for the Coflex implant and may require more extensive surgery or fusion.

5. Dr. Rovner earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and completed his residency at the University of California in Irvine. He completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the University of Southern California Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey.

Scoliosis Treatment In The Bay Area Improved With New Procedure

Bay Area  spine surgeon Dr. Robert Rovner has developed a new technique to correct the abnormal rotation of the spine as well as the curvature caused by scoliosis. Most conventional surgeries address the curvature but will only slightly correct the rotation of the spine, often leaving patients with an unsightly telltale bump caused by a protruding rib.

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, most often diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence. Scoliosis also causes a rotational deformity, which occurs when the ribs on the high side are rotated up as a result of the spinal rotation. With traditional procedures the end result can be disappointing for patients who are expecting to have the deformity corrected as well as the curve. Dr. Rovner wanted to find a way to improve these outcomes for his patients and he ultimately developed a new  surgical technique and  hardware to correct not only the abnormal curvature of the spine but also the rotational deformity, which is not fully addressed by conventional surgery. Dr. Rovner shows how the new treatment for scoliosis helped one of his patients in this story from ABC 7 News San Francisco:

Scoliosis can develop in infancy or early childhood. However, the primary age of onset for scoliosis is 10-15 years old, occurring equally among both genders. Although boys and girls are affected in equal numbers girls are eight times more likely than boys to progress to the point of needing surgery. Every year, scoliosis patients make more than 600,000 visits to private physician offices and  an estimated 30,000 children are fitted with a brace, and 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery. Source: National Scoliosis Foundation

Dr. Rovner developed a device and technique that allows the surgeon to make the spine as straight as possible by enabling adjustments from both sides of the spine. “In the future, I think surgeons will start using this technique or something similar because of the proven benefits for their patients,” he says.

Robert Rovner, MD is a board certified spine surgeon at Disc & Spine in Danville, CA. For more information on treatment for scoliosis or other conditions of the spine call 925-275-0700 and visit