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World’s First Scaffold Implanted into Man’s Spinal Cord

photo of phoenix spine surgeon Nicholas Theodore

Spinal Neurosurgeon Dr. Nicholas Theodore

Neurosurgeons at Barrow Neurological Institute have implanted the world’s first scaffolding device into the spinal cord of a patient.

Performed last month, the surgery involves inserting a bioresorbable scaffolding implant to act as a bridge across the gap of the injured section of the cord in an attempt to help the spinal cord heal. This first case is part of a pilot study to measure the clinical safety of the implanted device developed by InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. If proven successful, surgeons believe the new technique could become a standard protocol in the treatment of acute spinal cord injury.

“This is a major milestone for spinal cord injury treatment and we are elated to be the first hospital in the world to perform this innovative surgery and to be part of the clinical trial,” says Nicholas Theodore, MD, Chief of Spinal Surgery at Barrow and principal investigator of the study. “This could be the first step in identifying a new treatment option to improve the overall recovery of individuals with acute spinal cord injury.”

Twenty-five-year-old Jordan Fallis, the first patient to have the scaffold implanted, will be closely monitored throughout his recovery to see if there are any changes or improvements to his spinal cord and mobility.

Fallis, a machinist who resides in Scottsdale, was injured in October in a dirt biking accident. A section of his spinal cord was injured and he was airlifted to Barrow which is located at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery by Dr. Theodore that evening. Fallis spent a week in the ICU before being transferred to the hospital’s Neuro Rehabilitation Center where he is currently undergoing intensive physical and occupational therapy.

“Dr. Theodore explained the study to me before my surgery and I immediately consented,” says Fallis. “I’m excited to be the first patient in this research study that may one day become the standard of spinal cord injury treatment.”

To measure the safety of the device, the FDA has approved five individuals in the United States to undergo the procedure. Fallis will be monitored for three months before InVivo reopens enrollment. In addition to Barrow, the University of North Carolina, the University of Arizona and the Washington University Medical Center are participants in the study.

About Barrow

Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premiere destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.