While developments in medical technology and minimally invasive surgical techniques in recent years have helped to revolutionize how spine surgeons treat patients for injuries and conditions that may have once required complicated open back surgery, the development of breakthrough drug therapies has remained elusive so far.
With decades of old research results from spine surgery and recovery studies that predated “big data,” algorithms, and even the internet in many cases, a team from the University of California San Francisco and Ayasdi, a software company, conducted a meta-analysis of information from earlier clinical trials into spine surgery recovery – and found some surprising results.
The Marriage of New Technology with Old Research
Though it may sound counter-intuitive, the data and information collected from failed experiments can also offer valuable clues and insights that can help identify relationships and correlations previously missed by researchers – providing the data is accessible and interpretable. In the case of the University of California San Francisco and Ayasdi project, they uncovered an unexamined relationship between the long-term recovery of spinal cord injury patients and high blood pressure during the initial surgeries.
With modern mathematical and machine learning techniques, scientists can review large sets of old data and find patterns that a human might miss. This can be especially important in the field of spine surgery and recovery from back injuries, which can be difficult to both treat and study because the spine is so complex, with too many variables to easily examine and account for.
“Spinal cord injuries are enormously complex and thus still poorly understood compared to other systems. Efforts to isolate simple causal mechanisms have proven elusive, and that’s a real threat to discovering new therapies,” said Adam Ferguson, one of the investigators.
Revisiting discarded and unpublished data from spine research studies and clinical trials with modern computing power can help researchers to interpret complex variables in new ways, with the hope of finding a lead to new therapies to treat spinal cord injuries.
Minimally Invasive Robotic Spine Surgery in Los Angeles
Are you suffering from chronic back pain or a spine injury like degenerative disc disease? Contact board certified orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Sanjay Khurana at the Los Angeles Spine Group today at 310.321.4333 to schedule an appointment.
Next, read about The Game-Changing Developments of Microscopic Spine Surgery