Like fixing a flat on the roadside, a new injectable hydrogel is showing promise as a remedy for worn-down spinal discs — pumping them back up and relieving chronic back pain.
The gel, with the brand name Hydrafil, is injected directly into worn discs using X-rays to guide the needle, said lead researcher Dr. Douglas Beall, chief of radiology services at Clinical Radiology of Oklahoma in Edmond. As outlined in a pilot study,. the gel fills in cracks and tears in the spinal disc, adhering to the disc’s center and outer layer.
“It goes in as a heated liquid that cools off and becomes kind of the consistency of a medium hard eraser,” Beall said. “It creates kind of a Fix-a-Flat, filling the disc back up and returning the biomechanical integrity of the disc.”
Twenty patients treated with the gel experienced a 67% reduction in their back pain during a one-year follow-up, Beall said.
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