PEN technique emerges as one of the most-preferred treatments for lower back pain in UAE

  • PEN procedures performed by Himchan-UHS Joint & Spine Centre records 95% patient satisfaction rate
  • UHS had recently introduced a new Post Recovery Care Unit (PRCU) dedicated to day surgery patients.

Subsequent to the introduction of a new Post Recovery Care Unit (PRCU) dedicated to day surgery patients, the University Hospital of Sharjah announced that its Himchan Spine and Joint Center has successfully performed more than 100 Percutaneous Epidural Neuroplasty (PEN) procedures. The hospital revealed that 95% of its patients reported a satisfying experience after undergoing the non-surgical one-day treatment, which reduces pain by more than 80% in people suffering from severe back pain.

Thanks to more recent advancements in the area of spine health, several non-surgical treatment options are available today even as the number of patients suffering from back pain continues to rise. Considered one of the most effective non-surgical treatment for back pain, PEN procedure involves the insertion a 1mm thin catheter to inject medication into the area that causes the pain. Following this, the area where the procedure is performed is irrigated with saline and anti-inflammatory medication is injected, thereby alleviating the pain significantly.

“An increasing number of back pain patients are now turning to the PEN procedure, owing to its proven ability to alleviate pain by more than 80% without surgery,” explained Dr. Dae Won Cho, Consultant Spine Surgeon at Himchan – UHS Joint and Spine Center. “However, surgeons require a high level of anatomical understanding to maximize the effect of PEN as spine problems are mostly complex in nature. The Korean consultant spine surgeons at Himchan – UHS Spine and Joint Center are specialized in this.”

“In most patients, a number of medical problems can be found between each vertebra and a single PEN procedure can bring significant pain reduction to large areas, addressing all these problems simultaneously. It is the use of a catheter in particular that relieves pressure on the nerve of multilevel spinal stenosis by physically creating some space,” said Dr Cho.

Today, PEN has become the best treatment option for patients who experience persistent pain even after undergoing other non-surgical treatments and those who are not considered suitable candidates for surgeries. It is also preferred by young patients with herniated discs or spinal stenosis and geriatric patients as an alternative to full-fledged surgeries. Besides, some patients have a general aversion to elaborate medical procedures while some others simply cannot afford it due to several other comorbidities they might have. All these factors, along with instant results, make PEN one of the most-preferred treatment options by patients with seemingly untreatable lower back pain. Patients who experience pain even after surgeries can opt for this procedure given that there are no inflammatory diseases present and there is no likelihood of excessive bleeding.

The procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes and patients are only required to stay in the recovery unit for 1 to 2 hours before they are discharged. It has also been found that cases of recurrence or side effects are extremely rare. Although the duration of the treatment’s positive results varies from patient to patient depending on their individual conditions, PEN’s curative effect lasts more than other types of injection treatments. The main difference between PEN and other injections is that PEN uses a catheter that is inserted directly into the neural canal to reach the exact pain point and not injecting into the surrounding area.

Dr. Ali Obaid Al Ali, UHS Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Trustees, said: “UHS has been continuously investing in its collaboration with Himchan to improve the quality of life of our patients.  Minimally invasive procedures such as PEN are considered an extension of the non-invasive kind of treatments that have become the trend in advanced spine medicine. Their rising popularity can be attributed not only to their higher efficiencies but also to their ability to reduce morbidity and length of patient’s stay at the hospital. UHS’s recent introduction of a PRCU dedicated day surgery patients enables us to transfer patients to this new unit after the PEN procedure to recover before being discharged on the same day. Capitalizing on the advancements in spine health, Himchan – UHS Joint and Spine Center is emerging as a leading professional Korean medical services provider that caters to the needs of local and international patients alike.”

Although extremely common these days, lower back pain due to extensive stress on the spine is often regarded as uncritical. However, if an individual develops it, it can progress significantly and cause strong, sharp pain while bending, extending and moving her/his body and can make day-to-day life difficult, thereby affecting the quality of life. According to a journal within “Techniques of Neurolosys (2016)” that compared the result of injection treatments with that of PEN, patients who received injection treatments only experienced a temporary relief from pain, while 72% of patients who underwent PEN experienced substantial relief from pain even after a year since undergoing the procedure.