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Posted: Tuesday, 29 July 2014 6:07AM

LSU School of Medicine freezing away knee pain

An innovative treatment, using the natural power of cold to stop nerves from signaling knee pain is now available to patients in the New Orleans area.

Dr. Vinod Dasa, Orthopaedic Surgeon at the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New Orleans is one of the first U.S. physicians to perform the procedure which directs a controlled cold dosage via closed-end probes to specific nerves for precise and predictable pain relief without the use of medications.

"Basically, I puncture the skin with these three tiny needles, says Dr. Dasa. "The system delivers liquid nitrous oxide from a handheld device to the closed-end probes during treatment. It cools the needles down to minus 120 degrees and creates an 'ice cube' under the skin."

The precise cold treatment causes a reversible nerve block based. Pain is relieved in sensory nerves, which send messages to the central nervous system.

"So, if you know where the nerves are that generate pain and you bring this 'ice cube' in contact with that nerve, it'll shut it down and you have no more pain," says Dasa.

Though only specified for knee pain, Dr. Dasa says other applications may be available in the future.

"The research is ongoing now to figure out where other nerves are that we can target, given the size of the needles and the length of the needles that they have right now. But, they're actively developing and creating new needles to reach different places."

There are only about twenty physicians using the device in the U.S. And, Dr. Dasa is the only surgeon in the world using it for surgical pain.

"The theory being, if I can freeze the nerves before surgery that cause pain, I'm going to reduce your pain after surgery, which then makes your recovery better and, hopefully, gets you to recover much faster."

And, that theory has proven correct, so far, in Dr. Dasa's operations. 

"We're able to reduce the amount of pain medication patients were taking after knee replacement by half by doing this before surgery."

Use of the treatment for knee pain has had varied results, but all positive to some extent. Dr. Dasa has used the system to treat more than 60 patients.

"I've had some patients with pain relief only lasting for a few weeks. I've had other patients with pain relief from six to nine months," says Dasa.

When the pain relief subsides, predictable restoration of the nerve function occurs.

Myoscience, a Silicon Valley, California-based company, announced the launch of its iovera system just this month for the treatment of anterior and interior knee pain at the LSU Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The iovera system is currently approved in Europe and Canada for temporary wrinkle reduction, temporary pain reduction and treatment of dermatologic conditions, and is indicated in the United States for use in pain management and general surgical use.


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