Innovate Now: Southern Performs First Discectomy with Barricaid in Northeast

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Southern New Hampshire Health has made history becoming the first hospital in the Northeast to perform a discectomy with Barricaid to treat a herniated disc.

The Barricaid® Annular Closure Device (ACD), also referred to as “Barricaid,” is an implant inserted in the disc space in the lower back to prevent another herniated disc. The Barricaid is intended to close the hole in a patient’s disc outer wall following a limited discectomy procedure in the lower back after an initial herniated disc.

Tung Nguyen, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery at Southern New Hampshire Health, performed the procedure on December 2, 2020.

“It’s basically a one-way flap that prevents more disc fragments from coming out of that same defect,” Dr. Nguyen explains. “We are basically, sealing it surgically. Studies show it reduces the risk of re-herniation by 50 percent.”

For the patient, Cheryll Vaillancourt, the outcome has been positive.

“I’m very pleased so far,” she says. “I was able move around freely and even pick up my granddaughter after just seven weeks! My previous partial discectomy left me with significant restrictions and a long arc of recovery. It’s a little mind-bending that I didn’t have any physical restrictions at such ab early point following the Barricaid procedure. It restores my hope for a normal life.”

Previously she underwent a partial laminectomy after herniating a disc. In October 2020, Vaillancourt says she woke up with the same, familiar pain she previously had. She scheduled an appointment and Dr. Nguyen quickly determined she had herniated the same disc, in the same place, again.

To be a candidate for Barricaid, a patient must have a disc herniation of a certain size and appearance. The defect must be seen on imaging and, during surgery, the opening must be a certain size. After X-rays and MRIs, Dr. Nguyen found that Vaillancourt was the perfect candidate for Barricaid, but told her she would be his first patient to undergo this procedure.

“It sounded almost too good to be true. The procedure would eliminate the need for another partial laminectomy by preventing the disc from herniating again. I wouldn’t need a fusion and would avoid the probable loss in range of motion that can result. I trust Dr. Nguyen and was confident that he would prepare himself thoroughly for the procedure, so I agreed to go forward with it,” Vaillancourt says.  

For Dr. Nguyen, his patient’s successful outcome was the most important part, but also it feels good to be the first. “I think we can prevent a lot of patients from having a reoccurrence of disc herniation and this will help their recovery in the long term,” he says.

Vaillancourt also feels a sense of pride as the first patient to undergo the procedure. “Sure, it’s exciting to be the first Barricaid recipient here in New England, but that’s not what prompted my decision to undergo the procedure,” she says. “It was my confidence in Dr. Nguyen. He’s a very smart, confident, even-keeled, personable surgeon. I know he won’t do surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary and I’m confident he stays current with innovation in his specialty. When he first presented the idea of the Barricaid surgery and explained why he believed I was an ideal candidate, I believed him, too.”

To continue her recovery, Vaillancourt must do physical therapy. She also plans to find a local pool to do lap swimming.