Bay Area Spine Surgeon Treats Spinal Stenosis With Titanium Clip

treatment for spinal stenosisThe Coflex Device Offers An Alternative To Spinal Fusion After Decompression, May Offer Best Treatment To Preserve Range Of Movement For The Right Patients, says Robert Rovner, MD.

Danville, CA – Kim is a 50-something who loves to be active. She participates in marathon bike rides and loves to hike in the mountains.That was until the onset of intense low back pain threatened to keep Kim from her favorite activities.“Pain was radiating from my lower back and down my legs,“ she says. “Sitting down was the only way I could make the pain stop.”

Dr. Rovner’s patient Kim rides her bike again after treatment for spinal stenosis.

Spine surgeon Dr. Robert Rovner diagnosed Kim with lumbar spinal stenosis.

Lumbar spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back caused by bone and / or tissue growth in the openings in the spinal bones. This narrowing can compress and irritate the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, or weakness. Vertebrae in Kim’s lower back had become unstable, putting painful pressure on surrounding nerves. Serious cases can require spinal fusion after a decompression procedure but Dr. Rovner recommended a less invasive procedure using “Coflex” a titanium clip-like device.

“Lower back and leg pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis may now be treated in many cases without resorting to spinal fusion,” says Dr. Rovner, of Disc & Spine in Danville, CA. “This less invasive procedure preserves range of motion and allows for a more rapid recovery.”

Dr. Rovner says that spinal stenosis is usually treated with a procedure called a “laminectomy” to decompress the nerves, combined with fusion to stabilize the spine. With the Coflex procedure, the clip is placed between two vertebrae immediately after a laminectomy is completed. The spring-like device allows the back to flex while providing support.

“A recently published five-year randomized prospective outcome study of laminectomy and Coflex patients shows outcomes equal to or better than patients 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 the study.” (International Journal of Spine Surgery, Michael Musacchio, MD – source:

“Before Coflex became available I was not used to seeing such rapid recovery and return to function with patients in whom I’ve done either a simple laminectomy alone or laminectomy combined with fusion,” says Dr. Rovner.

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

For more information or to book an appointment call Disc & Spine at 925-275-0700.

Scoliosis Treatment By Bay Area Spine Surgeon Brings Better Outcomes

Becker's Spine ReviewRobert Rover, MD a San Francisco Bay Area spine surgeon is performing a surgical technique to bring better outcomes in scoliosis surgery, as reported by Becker’s Spine Review.

Dr. Robert Rovner: 3 Points on a New Technique for Better Outcomes in Scoliosis Surgery

Written by Laura Dyrda

Robert Rovner, MD, MBA, a spine surgeon, has developed a new technique for scoliosis correction. He discusses some ways in which the traditional surgery fails and how this new technique could create better outcomes in the future.

How current techniques can still fail patients

When a patient presents a case with severe scoliosis, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. Early correction techniques involved fusions, but those procedures didn’t correct the curve; they only prevented it from worsening. Technology has evolved so surgeons can perform instrumentation for curve correction as well. Surgeons insert rods and attach them to the spine to bring the spine segments to the rods. For a more natural spine, surgeons can insert a curved rod. Some techniques involve rotating the rod 90 degrees so the scoliosis turns to a front-back curve. Once the rotation is accomplished, surgeons will then insert a second rod to strengthen the structure, bringing the spine to the second rod using screws, wires or hooks.

“In almost all available systems, two screws per bone are used up and down the curved portion of the spine and then a rod is attached to the screws on the left side. The second rod, on the right, is then attached to strengthen the construct, but all of the correction comes from the use of only the first rod, usually on the left,” says Dr. Rovner. “With the left rod in place, the second rod adds to the stability, but not to the correction.”

Scoliosis is both a curvature of the spine as well as a rotational deformity. This condition occurs when the ribs on the high side are rotated up as a result of the spinal rotation. Following traditional procedures, the end result can be disappointing for patients who are expecting to have the deformity corrected as well as the curve. As a result, Dr. Rovner wanted to find a way to improve these outcomes for his patients.

The solution: developing a new double-screw device

Dr. Rovner has developed a device that attaches the two screws together with a cross connector so surgeons have something to grip as they correct the deformity. “I can make the spine as straight as possible using the screws on both sides of the spine and then put in the rods,” he says.

The device, initially developed under Dr. Rovner’s guidance, is currently being fine-tuned by Synthes to make it more user-friendly. The procedure may be cumbersome for the moment, but Dr. Rovner anticipates that as he and other surgeons become more familiar with the technique, tweaks will be made to make the procedure easier and more efficient. “In the future, I think surgeons will start using this technique or something similar because of the proven benefits for their patients,” he says.

What it takes to train on the procedure

Scoliosis surgery is a difficult procedure which often necessitates extensive fellowship training to perform with good outcomes. But in using the traditional techniques, even the best surgeons can have an imperfect outcome, which Dr. Rovner says is frustrating. Using this new device and technique, however, could help improve these outcomes.

“The technique and device may be a bit more challenging, but as the results improve, we’ll start to see more surgeons use it in the future,” he says. “There are some surgeons who learn one technique and never change, but most surgeons constantly update their techniques as new technology becomes available.”

For those who are interested in learning more, surgeons can look at a technique manual or watch someone do a few of these operations to become familiar with the device and adverse issues that can occur. In the end, other surgeons should be able to pick up the procedure fairly easily — the instrumentation is different, but the screws and rods are the same.

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