15-minute 'tennis elbow' procedure

SAN ANTONIO - Whether brought on by tennis, golf or another sport, "tennis elbow" can steal an active person’s most prized possessions: pain-free movement.

That is why the development of the FAST -- Fasciotomy and Surgical Tenotomy -- technique at the Mayo Clinic, with the help of Dr. Bernard Morrey at the UT Health Science Center, is becoming a popular alternative to traditional surgery.

Morrey explains, “The technical term is that it's pericutaneus, which means we go through the skin. Ultrasound, because it's ultrasonic energy, and tenotomy is actually what's happening. We are cutting through the tendon.”

In other words, without a traditional incision, the bad tissue is destroyed, then removed via a needle.

Instantaneously, the pain level is reduced and the healing begins on an elbow that just 15 minutes earlier couldn’t handle grasping a cup of coffee.

Russ Bellard began developing the problem after years of golf.

“It hurts to squeeze your toothpaste. It hurts to pick up the computer out of my computer bag right here,” he explained.

Bellard was so impressed by what he had heard of the procedure, he drove six hours from Lafayette, La., to the Medical Arts and Research Center at the UT Health Science Center to cure his epidondylitis.

"It's a 15- to 20-minute procedure and then we drive six hours home. It's outpatient," he explained.

Morrey has performed more than 150 procedures and says he’s yet to see a complication.

“In most patients, there is a dramatic improvement immediately, and then a gradual progressive improvement over time," he said.

The FAST technique isn't just for elbows either.

In fact, Los Angeles Lakers player Pau Gasol underwent the surgery a couple weeks ago on his knees and his prognosis is very good.

As for the cost, Morrey says it does vary from doctor to doctor, but is is covered by most insurance plans.

For more information, you may contact the UT Health Science Center at 210-567-2570.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.


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