Advanced Spine Surgery for Back and Neck Pain

Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg Now Offers Microdiskectomies And Other Spine Neurosurgeries

Andrew Tsen, MD, Neurosurgery
Watch a video to learn more about him.)

Spine disorders are among the most common – and debilitating – medical conditions you can suffer. In addition to causing extreme neck or back pain, they also may prevent you from enjoying normal activities and favorite pastimes.

“These problems fall into two categories: the sudden, acute type caused by an injury, or those that worsen over time, such as a herniated disk that can cause debilitating pain or a degenerative problem like spinal stenosis,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) neurosurgeon Andrew Tsen, MD, who recently joined LVPG Neurosurgery–Muhlenberg.

Your care options

If you are coping with spine-related problems, there are several pathways – all offered by LVHN – that can help you throughout the course of your care:

Physiatry – This medical specialty combines physical medicine (nonsurgical) and rehabilitation to treat physical disabilities caused by injury or illness.

Chiropractic medicine – Chiropractors focus on treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system and nervous system.

Rehabilitation – Outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation can help you regain strength or re-master activities of daily living.

Neurosurgery – This specialized surgery focuses on the nerves and nervous system.

Second opinion 

If you are uncertain about a previous diagnosis or need to know if a particular treatment path is best for you, our experts can provide an assessment and second opinion.

If neurosurgery is the optimal course of treatment, patients now have wider access to care in Northampton County. “Advanced spinal neurosurgery is now available in Bethlehem at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg,” Tsen says. “Our team of specialists includes neurosurgeons trained to treat spine and other nervous system conditions.”

When surgery is necessary

LVH–Muhlenberg offers a full spectrum of leading-edge surgical options for back and neck pain. One of the most common lumbar (back) surgeries is called microdiscectomy, which relieves pain from herniated (ruptured) lumbar disks. This excruciating condition often shows up without prior injury, typically in patients age 40 to 60.

“Every disk contains a jelly-like substance that can push out and press painfully on a nerve,” Tsen says. “Microdiscectomy is a simple outpatient procedure performed through a small inch-and-a-half incision using a microscope to remove ruptured disk material and alleviate nerve pressure.”

Lasting relief: Paul Bickel knows the benefits of microdiscectomy firsthand.

Last August the 46-year-old from Allentown found himself unable to walk or stand for long due to shooting pain down his left leg. When an MRI revealed a herniated disk pressing on his sciatic nerve, he was referred to Tsen by physician assistant Geoffrey Carlson, PA-C, with LVPG Family Medicine–Fogelsville.

Tsen recommended a microdiscectomy after nonoperative approaches didn’t relieve his pain. Bickel underwent surgery on Oct. 31 and returned home that afternoon. Within days his pain was mostly gone.

“Three weeks after surgery, I went to Disney World with my family and had no trouble walking,” he says. “I’m so thankful Dr. Tsen got me in fast so I could enjoy my vacation.”

– Sidney Stevens