Health professional evaluates woman with neck pain

Within the spinal column, there are several soft structures, including flexible cartilage and rubber-like discs. These help to support the spine, prevent injury, and cushion the vertebrae. Arthritis in the neck and lower back occurs when these structures begin to weaken and shrink. Pain or weakness can result from increased tension between vertebrae, causing bone spurs that can lead to compressed or “pinched” nerves in the spine. There are many different kinds of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis (usually occurs due to old age, strain from movement, or injury) and rheumatoid arthritis (occurs as a result of an autoimmune condition).

The most common treatment for arthritis of the neck and lower back includes some combination of lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), physical therapy, and pain medication (like over-the-counter pain relievers, NSAIDS, muscle relaxers, and mild narcotics). In some cases, the pain specialist may recommend steroid injections in the spine to block pain in the affected nerves. Although uncommon, surgery may become necessary to treat certain specific causes of neck and lower back arthritis pain.

Back to Spinal Conditions

New Non-Invasive Cardiac Test Can Help Physicians Diagnose Heart Disease

Washington, D.C. – MedStar Washington Hospital Center became first in Washington, D.C. and central Maryland to adopt the HeartFlow® Analysis, a first-of-its-kind non-invasive technology to help physicians diagnosis coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease.

CAD is the leading cause of death for both men and women. It develops when cholesterol builds up in the arteries and blocks blood flow, causing chest pain or heart attacks.

Heart Stylized Courtesty of HeartFlow, Inc.
Courtesy of HeartFlow, Inc.

Many of the non-invasive tests available today have low accuracy rates in detecting CAD and studies have shown there is a need to improve how the disease is evaluated and diagnosed. A recent study found more than half of patients with suspected CAD who underwent an invasive coronary angiogram (ICA) had no need for intervention, since no blood flow-limiting blockage was found during the procedure.

“Historically, cardiac CT has emerged as a powerful and accurate tool to detect coronary artery disease, but it has a limitation in that it cannot sometimes determine the how significant of blockage the cholesterol buildup is causing in the arteries,” said Gaby Weissman, MD, section chief of Clinical Cardiology with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The HeartFlow Analysis changes this paradigm, allowing us to assess the coronary anatomy, blockages to the coronary arteries, and importantly, the physiological significance of those findings, all with one test. This provides essential information that can help us determine the right approach for a patient through a convenient, non-invasive platform.” 

The HeartFlow Analysis takes the patient’s CT scans and creates a personalized 3D model of the patient’s coronary arteries. It then uses powerful computer algorithms to simulate blood flow and assess the extent and the impact of blockages on blood flow to the heart. This detailed information helps doctors determine the next steps in treatment for the patient.

The HeartFlow Analysis has been used for over 60,000 patients with suspected heart disease. In clinical trials, using the HeartFlow Analysis helped identify which patients do and do not need invasive treatment.


Courtesy of HeartFlow, Inc

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About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The Hospital Center operates the Washington region’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the District’s only Cardiac Ventricular Assist Device program, both certified by The Joint Commission. The hospital is also home to MedSTAR, a nationally verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

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