Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Whether you are a gold medal winning gymnast, a “weekend warrior” sports enthusiast, a long-distance runner or simply someone who enjoys the occasional walk around the block, tendon ailments can be a painful, frustrating setback.

When muscles move or are used in ways that test their natural structure or are overused in a variety of repetitive-motion activities, the tendons (connective tissue) can become damaged, causing pain and discomfort.

For many, the answer is rest, stretching, bracing, medicines or injections. In some cases, however, where tendons don’t properly heal, patients are often left considering invasive surgery that can involve removing the damaged tissue and long recovery times. For active people and athletes, that is often difficult to face.

An innovative new medical device called the Topaz Microdebrider, which enables doctors to offer a less invasive alternative, is being quickly adopted by surgeons around the country specializing in treating sports medicine injuries. Topaz offers an innovative advancement in the treatment of tendons. This procedure is a quick, simple and a minimally invasive alternative.

The Patient’s Perspective – From Average Joe to World Class Athlete

For patients, Topaz offers dramatic relief from nagging, sometimes disabling tendon problems. And it all happens very quickly. The doctor places the patient under mild sedation. After a one inch incision is made (dramatically smaller than what would be made in a traditional invasive tendon surgery), the doctor treats the damaged tendon with Topaz technology (explained in greater detail below), to remove tiny amounts of tissue from the affected area and stimulate a healing response. The treated area is rinsed and closed and medication is given. From start to finish, the whole procedure takes less than 20 minutes.

For the patient, this also means getting back into action significantly faster than with traditional, more invasive surgery.

One patient who has reaped the benefits of accelerated recovery is Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu. Moceanu, who is presently mounting an impressive return to elite international gymnastic competition, was sidelined last year with chronic and painful Achilles tendinosis. After trying conservative therapies to no avail, Moceanu was faced with the long recovery time of traditional open surgery.

When she learned of Topaz technology from world-renowned podiatrist Dr. Gerard Yu, Moceanu opted for the less invasive treatment with hopes for a speedy recovery.

Her Topaz treatment at the hands of Dr. Yu was a success – so much so that only six weeks after surgery, she wowed crowds at an exhibition alongside several of the world’s most revered gymnasts for a nationally televised gymnastics exhibition. Now she has set her sights on competing at the highest levels of her sport – and the Achilles tendon that caused her chronic soreness due to degeneration is pain-free.

How it Works: The Innovative Science Behind TOPAZ

The surgical removal of unhealthy tissue is often necessary for the treatment of the tendons found in the small joints. Topaz utilizes radiofrequency-based technology called Coblation as an alternative to standard surgical cutting techniques for removing and treating tissue. Topaz enables the micro-debridement of soft tissue, such as tendons in the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle and foot. One of the benefits of Topaz’ less invasive approach is that the technology preserves the anatomical structure of the tissue while delivering a precisely controlled amount of radiofrequency energy that stimulates a healing response in the tissue.

While most radiofrequency-based surgical products, such as lasers and electrosurgical devices, use heat-driven processes to remove or cut tissue, Coblation-based technology such as Topaz operate at a lower temperature, allowing for more precise procedures than would be performed by traditional surgical tools. Instead of exploding tissue structures under high temperatures, Coblation technology gently dissolves target tissue, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

The gentle tissue-dissolving process provided by Coblation is applied specifically for the microdebridement of soft tissues such as tendons.

Through a small incision (about one inch), the wand-like Topaz Microdebrider is applied on and around the affected tendon for half-second treatments a quarter inch apart until a grid-like pattern of tiny indentations is formed. With every fourth application, the device is inserted deeper into the tendon - approximately a quarter inch in depth. Small amounts of tissue are removed as a light dose of radiofrequency energy is directed into the tissue. As mentioned above, the Topaz treatment typically takes less than 20 minutes. Patients are ready to leave the clinic once recovered from light anesthesia.

In short, Topaz provides patients--be they weekend warriors, or gold-medal winning Olympians--with a treatment option that is less invasive and less traumatic, resulting in a potentially dramatic reduction in recovery time. Topaz is now available in a quickly growing number of operating rooms around the country.

For more information – or to find a physician near you that utilizes the Topaz technique – please visit TopazInfo.com. 

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