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At East Bay Brain & Spine we strive to keep you informed about the latest developments in the neurosurgical world — as well as information about our practice.

FeaturedPractice News
November 12, 2019

VIDEO FEATURE: Dr. Max Merkow speaks about minimally invasive spine techniques

Dr. Merkow addresses the philosophy behind modern spine procedures that are commonly classified as "minimally invasive." The tenets of these surgeries include minimizing tissue injury, utilizing neuronavigation (computer/imaging guidance), and maintaining normal...
Visualase Probe FeaturedPractice News
November 15, 2018

Dr. Merkow brings laser treatment for brain tumors to the East Bay

In partnership with John Muir Medical Center, Dr. Max Merkow performs treatment of brain tumors with the Visualase laser system. By using a "GPS" imaging map, he places a 1.65mm...

VIDEO FEATURE: Dr. Max Merkow speaks about minimally invasive spine techniques

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Dr. Merkow addresses the philosophy behind modern spine procedures that are commonly classified as “minimally invasive.” The tenets of these surgeries include minimizing tissue injury, utilizing neuronavigation (computer/imaging guidance), and maintaining normal spine motion. Examples include tubular retractor systems, artificial disc replacement, and lateral approaches to the spine. These surgeries shorten traditional recovery times. Dr. Merkow believes, when used appropriately, minimally invasive spine surgery improves clinical outcomes by decreasing pain, increasing strength, and raising one’s overall quality of life. East Bay Brain & Spine surgeons couple the latest in surgical technology with sound clinical judgment to better the lives of their patients.

Dr. Max B. Merkow lectures on Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in Danville, CA

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Sponsored by the John Muir Health Neurosciences Institute Dr. Merkow spoke about, “What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery? Does it Work?” on June 6, 2019. The talk was geared towards primary care physicians, pain management physicians, neurologists, and kinesiologists in attendance. Dr. Merkow explained how tubular retractor systems help relieve nerve pressure while preserving important spinal ligaments. He also discussed the role of artificial disc replacement in the cervical spine and minimally invasive hardware placement using intraoperative navigation. The lecture addressed the benefits of oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion and why Dr. Merkow prefers this approach versus lumbar fusion techniques.

Although more technically demanding, the less invasive spinal surgery approaches commonly lead to shorter recovery times and the preservation of normal spine motion/biomechanics.

Visualase Probe

Dr. Merkow brings laser treatment for brain tumors to the East Bay

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In partnership with John Muir Medical Center, Dr. Max Merkow performs treatment of brain tumors with the Visualase laser system. By using a “GPS” imaging map, he places a 1.65mm diameter catheter into the tumor. Dr. Merkow then monitors the ablation (controlled destruction) of the tumor in real-time via an MRI machine. This treatment is particularly well-suited for tumors deep in the brain or tumors that metastasize from other parts of the body. The incision is typically closed with a single stitch and patients spend one night in the hospital before going home.
The laser catheter technology is one more addition to the fight against brain cancer. Dr. Merkow is proud to be the first and only surgeon in the East Bay offering this treatment.

Dr. Merkow interviewed for JMH Newsletter: Minimally invasive spine surgery, deep brain stimulation, and laser thermal ablation

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Dr. Merkow was featured in the “Neurosciences 2018 Spotlight” of the John Muir Health newsletter. He discusses several areas of his practice including less invasive spine procedures, deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease and essential tremor, and laser thermal ablation for brain tumor treatment.

Read the newsletter excerpt.

The management of spinal trauma

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Dr. Merkow discusses The management of spinal trauma at the Annual Trauma Symposium at John Muir Health on April 19th 2018 (presentation to begin at 3pm).

Dr. Max Merkow outlines the important clinical aspects of treating spine trauma patients. He emphasizes early surgical stabilization using minimally invasive techniques coupled with mobilization (as opposed to bedrest) in patients with unstable fractures. Dr. Merkow is a proponent of surgical navigation techniques using stereotactic workstations (see above); these methods allow patients to leave the hospital and get back to their normal lives faster than traditional treatments.

Evidence for avoiding fusion in lumbar burst fractures

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In the November Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine issue, our neurosurgery colleagues publish a meta-analysis describing data that support internal fixation rather than fusion for common types of spinal fractures (lumbar burst fractures). This provides evidence for a less invasive means of treating spine fractures and maintaining good long-term outcomes. Read the abstract here.