New Brunswick

Moncton doctor first in Canada to do newly approved surgery for relief of pain syndrome

A Moncton neurosurgeon says he successfully performed the first surgery in Canada to relieve suffering in patients afflicted by complex regional pain syndrome.

Patient was able to sleep without waking up in pain for first time in eight years, doctor says

Dr, Antonios El Helou, wearing red, performed the first complex regional pain syndrome surgery in Canada on Monday. (Submitted by Horizon Health Network)

A Moncton neurosurgeon says he successfully performed the first surgery in Canada to relieve suffering in patients afflicted by complex regional pain syndrome.

Dr. Antonios El Helou of the Moncton Hospital performed the surgery Monday on a patient who has suffered from chronic pain for years.

He said the patient is already feeling less discomfort.

"For the first time, she can feel the ground with her foot," El Helou said. 

"This morning she was happy because she was able to sleep all night, and it was the first time in eight years."

Chronic condition

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic condition affecting one limb and typically occurring after an injury, stroke or heart attack.

It affects the nerves and circulatory system, causing patients to become more sensitive to temperatures and to experience joint stiffness, swelling, muscle spasms and other symptoms.

A Moncton neurosurgeon has successfully performed the first surgery in Canada to relieve pain in patients suffering from CRPS, or complex regional pain syndrome. Dr. Antonios El Helou said after the surgery, his patient could feel the ground with her foot for the first time in years. 6:12

As part of the procedure, El Helou implanted a neuromodulation system featuring electric wires at the bottom of the patient's spinal cord. The wires carry an electrical current that stimulates the nerves, causing the patient's pain to decrease. 

The stimulator inside the patient is a week-long trial run. If it continues to prove successful, a permanent stimulator will be inserted in the patient. 

Surgery for complex regional pain syndrome has been available in the United States for three years and in Europe for seven years. It was approved by Health Canada earlier this year. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.