Chicago Back Institute

At the Chicago Back Institute, our physicians, therapists and staff understand and recognize your desire to regain control of your life as soon as possible.  With a strong focus on motion preservation procedures and techniques, we are dedicated to helping you restore stability while preserving natural motion. We take a collaborative, conservative approach to care, exploring less aggressive, rehabilitation-focused and complementary treatments — which have proven to be highly effective — before considering surgery.

The Chicago Back Institute is conveniently located on the campus of Swedish Covenant Hospital and Galter LifeCenter on Chicago's northwest side. This relationship and proximity means that Chicago Back Institute patients can benefit from all hospital and medical fitness service lines including complementary and alternative medicines, pain management and rehabilitation programs. 

The Chicago Back Institute's neurological surgeons are nationally recognized by their peers for their outstanding clinical skills, expertise and innovative approaches to surgical and non-surgical spinal care. Their goals are simple: 

  • To intervene only as necessary 
  • To facilitate your return to a quality and productive life 
  • To always adhere to sound protocols for effective, safe procedures 
  • To use the most advanced technologies and treatment options available
Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >
Conditions we evaluate, diagnose and treat
The field of neurological surgery encompasses conditions affecting the spine, back, neck, arms and legs, and nervous system. The Chicago Back Institute specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with a variety of conditions and symptoms, including those listed below:

• Arteriovenous malformation of the spinal cord 
• Back pain 
• Brown-Sequard syndrome  
• Bulging disk  
• Carpal tunnel syndrome 
• Cauda equina syndrome  
• Cervical spinal stenosis  
• Disk disease  
• Diskitis  
• Disk space infection 
• Degenerative disease of the spine 
• Degenerative disk disease 
• Herniated disk (cervical, thoracic, lumbar)  
• Low back pain 
• Lumbar instability  
• Lumbar spinal stenosis  
• Lumbar spondylosis  
• Mid back pain  
• Myelopathy  
• Neck pain 
• Neurogenic claudication 
• Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL)  
• Pseudoclaudication  
• Radiculopathy (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) 
• Sciatica  
• Scoliosis 
• Spinal cord tumors (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) 
• Spinal instability 
• Spondylolisthesis 
• Spondylotic myelopathy 
• Spondylolysis (Pars defect) 
• Stenosis 
• Synovial cyst  
• Syringomyelia  
• Tarlov cyst

This list of terms and definitions is in place to help educate you about the different conditions you may face, so you can better understand how the Chicago Back Institute can treat you.

 If you experience any of these conditions or symptoms, please contact our licensed professionals for a diagnostic evaluation and the most effective treatments tailored to you.

At the Chicago Back Institute we not only treat back pain, but human beings.

The Chicago Back Institute is committed to using the most advanced technology available for treatments including alternative therapies, minimally invasive spine surgery, endoscopic spine surgery and fusion surgery.

Our neurological surgeons also specialize in motion-preservation technologies including total disk replacement and posterior stabilization, major spinal reconstruction and cancer surgery with reconstruction. 

Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >
TESSYS — A minimally invasive herniated disk procedure
The Chicago Back Institute at Swedish Covenant Hospital is the only spine center in Chicago offering the TESSYS (transforaminal endoscopic surgical system) procedure, a minimally invasive approach to treating herniated disks. This endoscopic microdiscectomy is designed to preserve important back muscles so you can regain and maintain mobility, which allows you to recover — and get back to daily life — faster.

During the procedure, also known as the “keyhole” surgery, a specially trained neurological surgeon uses narrow endoscopic tools to remove the damaged disk area through a small, keyhole-sized (1-2 cm) incision in the patient’s side. Whereas traditional surgeries and many other minimally invasive procedures can cause damage to the muscles surrounding the spine, the keyhole technique avoids the muscles altogether and impacts only the damaged part of the disk.

After this surgery, many patients experience:

• Less pain and scarring
• A shortened hospital stay (many patients go home the day of surgery)
• Reduced risk of infection
• Faster recoveries overall
• A reduced risk of needing follow-up surgeries

Dr. Dan Laich, a neurological surgeon at the Chicago Back Institute, was the first American surgeon to be trained to provide this procedure. He traveled to Germany in 2006 to learn the technique and spent months perfecting his skills. Today, Dr. Laich is the only spine surgeon in Illinois consistently performing the surgery, and he trains other spine surgeons from across the United States and the world. Dr. Laich is also one of five surgeons chosen to collect data for a national clinical study measuring the effectiveness of minimally invasive spine surgery. Surgeons from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America recently attended an educational symposium about this procedure hosted at the Chicago Back Institute.

Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Laich about the TESSYS procedure and the symposium held at Swedish Covenant Hospital>>

Patient testimonials
Getting back to a ‘Nawlins lifestyle
Tom McCauley, 65, and his wife split their time between Aurora, Ill., and New Orleans, often making several trips back and forth every year.  Tom enjoys his active but laid-back lifestyle, filled with good food, good music and an occasional round of golf.  However, this lifestyle was recently threatened by a sudden bought of back pain which caused Tom to lose feeling in his left foot while on vacation. He immediately returned to Chicago and visited the Chicago Back Institute. Dr. Laich identified a herniated disk which could cause permanent nerve damage and recommended a TESSYS endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery. Less than an hour after the procedure, Tom had regained feeling in his foot and has since made a full recovery.

Even so, Tom returned to the Chicago Back Institute several months later for another surgery — but not for himself. His daughter, Kristin McCauley of the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, had injured her back while moving furniture, and by coincidence, also suffered a herniated disk. After trying to manage her pain through medication, physical therapy and chiropractic visits, Dr. Laich recommended the TESSYS procedure for her as well.  Like her father, she immediately felt relief after surgery and is now fully recovered and back to work and everyday life.

Aiding an international traveler
When Craig O’Brien, a 40-year-old from Naperville, hit the water slides with his kids on a family vacation, he had no idea how much suffering it would bring him and his career. A fluke injury caused two herniated disks that got progressively more painful and debilitating despite physical therapy and other conservative treatments.

The pain reached its worst just before a long-planned, crucial business trip to Hong Kong. Craig’s doctor said he needed surgery but Craig feared missing the trip would damage his career.

That’s when Dr. Dan Laich at the Chicago Back Institute told him about the TESSYS procedure, an innovative endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery in which the damaged disks are removed without damaging surrounding muscles or tissues. This allows for faster recovery than traditional or even other endoscopic procedures — meaning Craig could get the procedure and recover in time for the big trip.
Craig received the procedure in March and went home a few hours after his surgery — and was on his way to Hong Kong less than 10 days later, virtually pain free.

Request an Appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >

In addition to patient treatment they have been extensively involved with the development and teaching of new, innovative procedures.

Daniel T. Laich, D.O., has nearly 25 years of experience in spine care and neurological surgery. He specializes in therapeutic and minimally invasive spine treatments, including endoscopic and arthroplasty surgeries, as well as spine reconstruction. He was a fellow when he started a study on the Charite artificial disk, and with Rick Fessler, M.D., Ph.D., as he pioneered minimally invasive spine surgery. He continues in his academic pursuits both in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Laich has also traveled with medical mission trips to several African countries, including Nigeria with Dr. Boyer. He hopes to continue a developing relationship with the Cleveland Clinic's mission in Ghana and mission trips with Dr. Boyer and Carol Talisse, MMS, PA-C. His athletic lifestyle provides extra interest in caring for the injured athlete. 

Carol Talisse, MMS, PA-C, serves as a physician's assistant focused on compassionate spinal care. She has attended specialized neurological surgery and spine training across the country and has received numerable accolades from clinical staff, as well as her patients, thanking her for care beyond the confines of the office. She also has great interest in medical mission trips abroad. 

Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >

Call 773-271-2225 to see a Chicago Back Institute specialist. 

Chicago Back Institute Patient Stories

Read stories from patients who have found healing and compassion at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

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