New state-of-the-art spine center opens at UNM SRMC

May 2, 2014

Dr. Anthony T. and Eileen K. Yeung Endoscopic Spine Center

Physicians and Patients Benefit with the Least Invasive Spine Surgery Techniques

Phoenix, AZ, April 25, 2014: The University of New Mexico School of Medicine welcomed Dr. Anthony Yeung on April 25, 2014 for the dedication of the Anthony T. and Eileen K. Yeung Endoscopic Spine Center. A graduate of the UNM School of Medicine, Dr. Yeung was pleased to bring his endoscopic techniques and instrumentation to an academic setting at his alma mater, where physicians are trained in Yeung’s techniques and patients have access to the least invasive spine surgery in a multi-disciplinary team approach.

Dr. Yeung, who lives and practices at Desert Institute for Spine Care in Phoenix, Arizona developed the FDA-approved Yeung Endoscopic Spine Surgery system (YESStm) in the 1990s, which is now performed by surgeons at UNM. He took the concept of the knee scope and brought it to the spine, using a transforaminal approach and visualized endoscopic instrumentation he pioneered allowing for significantly smaller incisions. For patients, this means outpatient surgery, preservation of muscle and bone equating to more movement, and a quicker recovery.

Marrying the laser and the endoscope, Dr. Yeung developed a multi-channel device that allows surgeons to visualize and selectively remove portions of a herniated nucleus contributing to back and leg pain. The sleek 2.7mm operating channel uses a keyhole incision to access the damaged disc, dilating rather than cutting muscle and tissue, resulting in less tissue destruction, no need for general anesthesia, and a quicker recovery. This procedure is used to treat herniated, protruded, extruded, or degenerative discs in the lumbar spine, a very common condition.

“What guided me was my own personal experience with my mother who had spine surgery when I was a resident. She was worse after her surgery. I thought there had to be a better way,” Dr. Yeung expressed. “I wanted to bring this to UNM because there is already a team of like-minded physicians in place here who are interested in working with patients to find the source of their pain.”

Dr. Howard Yonas, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at UNM explained, “Because we have a very cohesive multi-disciplinary group in our spine program, it is clear that each part of the breadth of Dr. Yeung’s work will be embraced by all members of the team.” This interdisciplinary team includes specialists in orthopedic spine surgery, neurosurgery, physiatrists, internal medicine, family practice, psychology, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and chiropractic medicine.

“Every patient who comes to us is evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team,” said Dr. J. Fred Harrington, assistant professor of neurosurgery and director of the new endoscopic spine surgery center. He explained that the Sandoval Regional Medical Center facility is part of the UNM Interdisciplinary Center for Spine Health.

Dr. Yeung stated, “Endoscopic foraminal spine surgery offers the least invasive surgical solution to visualizing and treating the pain generators without burning any bridges for traditional more invasive procedures that have higher surgical morbidity.” Patients want less invasive options as opposed to fusion, and the faculty at UNM agree and practice what they preach, as one of their own is scheduled for surgery with Dr. Yeung in the coming month.

This is the culmination of the work Dr. Yeung has done over the past 20 years in search of less invasive spine surgery options for patients like his own mother. “The $2.5 Million dollars…this will carry on. I hope that this is a legacy,” concluded Dr. Yeung, who was accompanied by his family and colleagues for this special ribbon-cutting ceremony.


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