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Back Surgery Preserving Male Fertility

ABC 7 News,  Jan 12, 2011
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Spinal fusion is a common procedure for patients with back pain, but, it also carries the risk of damage to sets of tiny nerves in the abdomen. Some of those nerves, especially in men, control sexual function and fertility. Now, surgeons are testing a high-tech approach that may eliminate the undesirable side effects.

Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania are using a three dimensional robotic operating system for back surgeries. The goal is to avoid damaging tiny nerves in the abdomen that control sexual function.

"We could actually see these individual nerves branching off and spreading out. If you can see them, you can spare them," Daniel Eun, M.D., assistant professor of Urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of Minimally Invasive Robotic Urologic Oncology and Reconstruction at The Pennsylvania Hospital, said.

With some approaches to back surgery, as many as forty percent of male patients may experience fertility problems. With the robotic approach, urologists advance the surgical instruments. Then neurosurgeons take over and fuse the spine endoscopically.

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