People with lower-back problems such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease are invited to participate in three clinical trials of innovative approaches to treating the conditions.

The Department of Neurosurgery in the University of Utah School of Medicine is conducting the trials under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Kenneth S. Yonemura, assistant professor of neurosurgery.

In the first study, researchers are testing a novel approach to repairing the annulus, or outer covering, of a spinal disc and facilitating healing after disc surgery in the lumbar area. The researchers are seeking about 30 patients with herniated discs corresponding to pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the legs to take part in the trial.

People with lumbar spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal canal — who are experiencing leg pain and require surgical decompression and stabilization can join a second trial involving a device that compares dynamic non-fusion stabilization of the lumbar spine with standard instrumented fusion. Thirty-two patients are sought.

A third trial will compare a device that stabilizes the spine without fusing the vertebra with total disc replacement in the lumbar spine area. The device relieves lower back pain caused by disc damage or degeneration. Fourteen people are needed.

Co-investigators are Dr. Andrew T. Dailey, associate professor of neurosurgery; Dr. Darrel S. Brodke, associate professor of orthopedics; Dr. Michael D. Daubs, associate professor of orthopedics; and Dr. Alpesh A. Patel, assistant professor of orthopedics.

For information, call 801-585-7916.