Dr. Nitin Khanna

For years, Munster surgeon Dr. Nitin Khanna has used minimally invasive spine surgery techniques to provide pain relief to his patients in Northwest Indiana.

His expertise has led to him having his research published, writing a textbook chapter and teaching courses to surgeons around the United States. Now, Khanna and Franciscan Health have been tapped to participate in a national study on the long-term prognosis for patients who undergo micro decompression surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.

Spinal stenosis is a common problem that arises as people age. The spinal canal can narrow or compress, pinching the nerves and leading to pain in the back, buttocks and legs. A decompression surgery is done to shave back parts of the bone and soft tissue that are pinching the nerves. Khanna says his technique is minimally invasive, avoiding more severe surgical measures, such as spinal fusion. Patients usually can go home the same day or after an overnight hospital stay.

“Blood loss is minimal, patients get relief from the pain within hours and are up and walking the same day,” Khanna said.

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Khanna was chosen as a co-investigator on the project to analyze how surgery patients do over the next five years. The multicenter study includes sites around the country, with Franciscan Health as the lone site in the Region. He wants to spread the word to both patients and care providers about the opportunity to participate.

Khanna says the effort is important because treatment options for spinal stenosis have not been very well studied in the past. “This has the opportunity to be a landmark study once it’s completed,” he said.

Candidates for the study should be between the age 45 and 70 and have one level lumbar spinal stenosis with no evidence of instability, no osteoporosis and no previous spinal surgery. Participants must be available for testing and follow-up. For more information, call 219-924-3300 or go to nkspine.com.