Unique New Radio Wave Procedure Called Promising for Low Back Pain Associated With Contained Herniated Discs
4/29/2002Â*

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Apr 29, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ArthroCare Corp. (Nasdaq:ARTC)

Nucleoplasty(TM) Disc Procedure Provides Alternative to Drugs and Open-Spine Surgery, According to Medical Journal Article

A new procedure that uses a low-temperature form of radio wave energy to treat people suffering from contained herniated discs -- often referred to as "thrown-out backs" or "pinched nerves" -- successfully treated the symptoms in four out of five patients, according to an article that appeared today in the medical journal Pain Physician. According to some industry estimates, about 1.5 million Americans this year will experience symptoms associated with contained herniated discs such as lower back pain.

The new procedure -- called Nucleoplasty disc decompression and developed by ArthroCare Corp. (Nasdaq:ARTC) -- is based on a patented radio wave surgery technology that is applied by a minimally invasive technique, much like an ordinary steroid injection. Nucleoplasty is considered less invasive and less traumatic than some surgery technologies that are designed to cut, freeze or burn damaged tissue. Nucleoplasty is usually performed in 20 to 30 minutes under local anesthetic, and typically patients are able to walk out of the clinic in about an hour.

According to the authors, Nucleoplasty disc decompression provides patients with a minimally-invasive alternative to non-surgical therapies such as anti-inflammatory and pain medications, and steroid injections. The article was written by Lewis S. Sharps, M.D., F.A.C.S., an orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist in Paoli, Pa., and Zacharia Isaac, M.D., a rehabilitation specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

"In our study, the Nucleoplasty procedure achieved a success rate of 79 percent when measured by standard indexes for patient satisfaction, pain reduction, absence of narcotic use and return to work," Dr. Sharps said in an interview for this release. "We believe Nucleoplasty disc decompression is a promising option for patients who desire a minimally invasive surgery procedure beyond standard conservative therapies."

The study involved 49 people who received Nucleoplasty disc decompression and were clinically monitored for up to one year. Some of the patients had suffered from symptoms for over 20 years, and nine patients had previously undergone an invasive procedure. No complications from the Nucleoplasty procedure were reported, the authors wrote.

Last week, Dr. Sharps presented the study results also at a meeting of the North American Spine Society in New York, where Nucleoplasty disc decompression was the subject of seven scientific and medical presentations.

According to the journal article, the Nucleoplasty procedure offers the advantages of earlier disc decompression techniques, such as Chymopapain and laser discectomy, and "may not have the associated complications and side effects of these previously performed techniques."

Pain Physician is published quarterly by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, formerly the Association of Pain Management Anesthesiologists.
Cleared by the FDA in 2001

Cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001, the Nucleoplasty device is designed to release small, controlled amounts of radio wave energy into a herniated disc, the company said. Instead of burning tissue like conventional radio frequency surgery devices, the Nucleoplasty device creates a microscopic field of low-temperature ionized gas that is intended to dissolve small amounts of unwanted tissue inside the disc.

In much the same way that a bulging tire contracts when air is released, Nucleoplasty is designed to decompress a herniated disc. With disc decompression, the irritation to surrounding nerve roots is typically reduced, which allows relief of low back pain often associated with contained herniated discs.

In January 2002, Nucleoplasty was officially recognized as a disc decompression procedure by the American Medical Association for purposes of insurance reimbursement. The device is based on ArthroCare's patented Coblation(R) technology which was originally cleared by the FDA in 1995 for use in arthroscopy procedures. Since then, Coblation devices have been used to treat over 1.5 million people for a variety of common medical problems, ranging from knee injuries to facial wrinkle reduction.

About ArthroCare

ArthroCare Corp. (www.arthrocare.com), headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., is a multi-business medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets minimally invasive soft tissue surgical products based on its patented Coblation technology. Coblation uses low-temperature radio-frequency energy to gently and precisely dissolve rather than burn soft tissue, minimizing damage to healthy tissue. ArthroCare targets a multi-billion dollar market opportunity across several medical specialties, significantly improving surgical procedures and enabling new, minimally invasive procedures. ArthroCare's Coblation-based devices have been used in more than 1.5 million surgical procedures worldwide.

The company has developed and marketed Coblation-based products for arthroscopic, spine/neurologic, ear, nose and throat, cosmetic, urologic, gynecologic and laparoscopic/general surgical procedures, and continues research in other areas.

Safe Harbor Statements

Except for historical information, this press release includes forward-looking statements. These statements include, but are not limited to, the anticipated success of newly-introduced products, the company's belief that certain surgical products and procedures will enhance achievement of the company's long-term potential, the affect of anticipated government regulatory clearances, continued success of product diversification efforts, and other statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to the uncertainty of success of the company's non-arthroscopic products, competitive risk, uncertainty over reimbursement, need for governmental clearances or approvals before selling products, and the uncertainty of protecting the company's patent position. These and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including ArthroCare's Form 10-K for the year ended December 29, 2001. Forward-looking statements are indicated by words or phrases such as "anticipates," "estimates," "projects," "believes," "intends," "expects," and similar words and phrases. Actual results may differ materially from management plans.
To find out more about Nucleoplasty disc compression, including the names of doctors who perform the procedure, go to www.nucleoplasty.com.
CONTACT: ArthroCare Corporation Christine Hanni, 408/736-0224 (Investors) Mick Taylor, 408/202-9924 (Media)

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