Medical College of Wisconsin Researchers to Investigate Spinal Disc Degeneration
A research team at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) received a three-year, nearly $400,000 AOSpine Research Network award from AOSpine International of Davos, Switzerland to study imaging methods of spinal disc degeneration.
L. Tugan Muftuler, PhD, associate professor of neurosurgery at MCW, is the principal investigator for the study. The co-investigator is Dennis J. Maiman, MD, PhD, chairman and Sanford J. Larson professor of neurosurgery at MCW.
Drs. Muftuler and Maiman will use quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to noninvasively investigate the spinal disc degeneration process. The primary goal is to study the association between disc degeneration and problems in the supply of nutrients to discs. Ultimately, these imaging techniques will provide measurements of local changes in normal and degenerating discs with highly detailed images.
“The sequelae (pathological conditions resulting from a disease) of disc degeneration are one of the leading causes of functional incapacity and a source of chronic disability in working age adults,” Dr. Muftuler said. “The goal of our study is to understand the pathophysiology of spinal disc degeneration using novel imaging techniques, so that effective treatments that address the disease mechanisms can be prescribed earlier.”
Once established, these treatment methods may also be used to monitor disease progression and response to therapies.