Away from the blade and back to the game

Dr. Stephan Ben-Shoshan will be travelling to America later this year to introduce radiologists to the benefits of his CT-guided injection techniques.A “slipped” or herniated spinal disc can put any million-dollar baby out of commission for weeks, possibly months. A …

Dr. Stephan Ben-Shoshan will be travelling to America later this year to introduce radiologists to the benefits of his CT-guided injection techniques.A “slipped” or herniated spinal disc can put any million-dollar baby out of commission for weeks, possibly months. A major problem among athletes, herniated discs, often reported as “back problems”, cost big teams big money: take for example National Hockey League player Joe Sakic from Denver’s Colorado Avalanche now off the ice.

Sakic, who first suffered a slipped disc in November, will be out of the lineup for at least a couple more months, following a herniated disc operation.

While the doctors’ orders for a spinal disc herniation may include bed rest, physiotherapy, and a general anesthetic to alleviate the pain, up to 20-30 percent of all people who suffer from the condition — which can strike with no warning — have no choice but to take a more dangerous surgical route.

But before the team’s star player goes under the knife, an Israeli specialist Dr. Stephan Ben-Shoshan, 41, offers another solution: a novel treatment he pioneered, involving injections of low dose steroids via low radiation CT scans, in precise locations to treat the pain, and cause, of most disc herniations.

Ben-Shoshan believes that by using his method some 80% of patients can be spared the uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous operation. He asserts that his treatment outcompetes the sloppy epidural injections that deliver high doses of steroids to regions in the back and cause unwanted side effects.

When you can’t play with time

Ben-Shoshan’s treatment, widely practiced now in France and at private clinics in Israel such as the Herzliya Medical Hospital, gives new hope to those who can’t take chances or afford any time off the job.

Within 30 minutes, under local anesthesia, most patients destined for surgery return to completely normal activity after one procedure, Ben-Shoshan tells ISRAEL21c. “I introduce my needle under a CT scan into the spinal canal and very accurately see all the anatomical elements around the disc. The efficacy is maximum,” he adds, and presents no risk to the patient.

Already recognized as a novel practitioner in this area in Israel and France, Ben-Shoshan will be traveling to America later this year to introduce radiologists to the benefits of his CT-guided injection techniques. His procedure, which he hopes to be teaching to specialists in the United States, and available as part of the health basket of services around the world, could become standard practice — especially among sports doctors who can’t play with time.

An important choice before surgery
Sophie Guerin, Ben-Shoshan’s personal business manager, says that the new procedure is not meant to replace the job of surgeons: “He’s going one step before the surgery,” she says. “After the patient has rested and tried physiotherapy and it doesn’t work.”

If, after one treatment, the problem isn’t corrected, Ben-Shoshan will usually diagnose that the problem is mechanical, and may recommend surgery. Says Guerin: “It’s important for people who are using their body for work. For professional athletes it offers a better option. If you cannot go through surgery, this treatment will give you more chances to go back to being the dancer or the sportspersons you were,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

Ben-Shoshan is a graduate of the University of Paris and later worked at the Bichat Hospital in Paris. A specialist in radiology of the skeleton, spinal chord, joints, and muscles, Ben-Shoshan has experience performing hundreds of CT-guided pain treatments.

A new immigrant to Israel for four years now, Ben-Shoshan has high hopes that his technique will become standard practice: “Ultimately, I would like to train other radiologists, sports medical doctors and orthopedic surgeons in the United States,” he says.

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman lives in Jaffa, Israel. She is a journalist, writer and blogger who focuses on the environment and clean technology from Israel and the Middle East. Published in hundreds of newspapers around the world, Karin also writes for the Huffington Post and Green Prophet.