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Gabor B. Racz

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Gabor Bela Racz
Gabor B. Racz.jpg
Gabor Racz in 2010
Born 1937 (age 77–78)
Budapest, Hungary
Residence Lubbock, Texas, U.S.
  • Semmelweis University Medical School
  • University of Liverpool, M.B., Ch.B
Spouse(s) Enid Racz
Children 4
Medical career
  • Professor
  • anesthesiologist
  • pain management physician
  • Anesthesiology
  • pain management pharmacology
  • emergency & critical care
Institutions Messer-Racz International Pain Center
  • Interventional pain management
  • CRPS
  • RSDS
Research Chronic complex pain, including cancer pain

Gabor Bela Racz (born 1937) is a board certified anesthesiologist and professor at Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC) in Lubbock, Texas, where he is also Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Anesthesiology and Co-Director of Pain Services. He has pioneered procedures and designs in medical equipment and devices that have substantially advanced the treatment of patients suffering from chronic back pain, as well as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS). He designed the Racz Catheter, and pioneered what became known as the Racz procedure, which has been recognized internationally as a substantial advancement in the treatment for lysis of adhesions from around entrapped nerves in the epidural space of the spine. Racz is a Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP) and a founding member and past president of World Institute of Pain (WIP).

College and early medical training[edit]

Gábor Béla Rácz was born in Budapest, Hungary. He attended Semmelweis University Medical School in 1956 at the time of the Hungarian Revolution against Soviet occupation.[1] In November 1956, a young Racz and his wife, Enid, fled Budapest with his sister and her husband at a time when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian refugees fled the country in fear of Soviet reprisal, taking nothing but the clothes on their backs.[2][3][4] Racz fled to London, England, and in 1957 was able to attend second-year medical school with help from Betty and Ian McWhinney, M.D.[2][5] In 1962, Racz graduated from the University of Liverpool School of Medicine, having earned his Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.) and Bachelor of Surgery (Ch.B) degrees, and served as house surgeon and physician at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool. In 1963, he moved to the United States for an anesthesiology residency at State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, where he worked in numerous positions, including associate attending anesthesiologist and respiratory consultant in the neurological head injury unit. He also served as a consultant for the Veterans Administration Hospital, and the UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich, New York.[6][1]

Tenure at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center[edit]

In 1977, Racz was recruited to Texas Tech University to start an anesthesiology department and training program. He became the first Chairman of Anesthesiology at the then-new Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and held that position until March 1, 1999. His attention focused on the treatment of patients, and as director of pain services, on the expansion of operations and future development of an international pain center. He also served as Director of Pain Services from 1977 to 2006. His title was changed to Co-Director when Mark Boswell, M.D., PhD joined the department as Interim Department Chairman and Director of the new Messer-Racz Pain Center.[6]

Racz has garnered many prestigious honors and awards during his tenure, including first recipient of TTUHSC's highest award, the Grover E. Murray Professorship in 1996, in recognition of his distinguished achievements in the institution as well as internationally.[7] Racz's innovative work with nerve stimulators, spinal cord stimulators, radiofrequency thermocoagulation, and a wide range of other pain management procedures are being used in interventional pain practices throughout the world. He was among the first to use fluoroscopy, and also pioneered new designs in medical equipment and devices.[8]In December 1998, the University Medical Center named Racz recipient of a $1 million endowed chair in recognition of his "greatness in patient care, teaching and research" at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and University Medical Center.[6]

Gabor B. Racz (center) in a procedural lecture in 2012

Developments in the lysis of adhesions technique by Racz[9] and his colleagues resulted in the treatment of many patients suffering from failed back and neck surgery and spinal stenosis without the need for additional surgery. It has also resulted in new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes and multiple insurance approvals affecting interventional pain management treatments in clinics across the country.[10]

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new $4.3 million, 12,700 square feet (1,180 m2) Messer-Racz International Pain Center on the TTUHSC campus took place on June 13, 2005. Construction was completed in December 2008. According to Texas Tech Today, the center was named for Gene and Carlene Messer, who made a generous donation to the project, and for Gabor B. Racz.[10]

In October 2012, Racz received a lifetime achievement award for the nation's leading physician in international pain management from the New York/New Jersey Societies of Interventional Pain Physicans at their Symposium held in Jersey City, New Jersey. According to the World Institute of Pain Newsletter, Racz's contributions in the field of interventional pain medicine over four decades are unparalleled. At another event in Lubbock, Texas on October 22, 2012, Racz was honored with the Stella Traweek, MD/Gabor Racz, MD, Endowed Professorship in Pain Research by the TTUHSC School of Medicine.[6]

Racz Catheter procedure[edit]

In 1982, Racz pioneered what became known as the Racz Catheter procedure for lysis of adhesions from around entrapped nerves in the epidural space of the spine, or epidural adhesiolysis. Candidates for this procedure are usually patients who have developed scar tissue after a previous back surgery, or are suffering severe acute pain of protruding or herniated disks, or other severe degeneration process affecting the lower back. Scar tissue pressing upon spinal nerves can cause radiating pain through the legs as well as debilitating lower back pain. For many patients with protruding or herniated disks, the Racz procedure has eliminated the need for major surgical procedures, and has a reported 85% success rate worldwide.[11]

Racz designed and patented the Racz Catheter, a flexible, spring-wound catheter with a small fluoroscopic probe. The procedure is minimally invasive, and performed while the patient is under general anesthetic or conscious sedation. During the procedure, the Racz Catheter is introduced into the epidural space of the spine, either endoscopically or percutaneously, and is manipulated in a such a way as to mechanically break down some of the scar tissue around entrapped nerves so medications can reach the affected areas, and reduce inflammation and pain.[12][13][14]

Gabor B. Racz during a procedure in 2011

Complex regional pain syndrome[edit]

Racz is internationally recognized for procedural advancements in the treatment of complex regional pain syndromes (CRPS), a long-term disorder of the nervous system which is a challenging pain problem often misunderstood, and misdiagnosed. Chronic neurological syndrome is one form of CRPS which Racz has treated using a specific nerve block procedure he developed called a "long-lasting stellate ganglion block". The procedure involves injecting a 3% phenol solution into the 7th cervical (C7) vertebra in the neck region using fluoroscopic guidance.[15] According to Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Racz said, "It is not a procedure that should be attempted by anybody who is not trained in the specific technique". Many patients live pain-free after the Racz procedure is performed.[16]

Recognitions and certifications[edit]

Racz is a lifetime member, board emeritus member, and faculty member of the American Society of Pain Physicians. He is a charter member of the National Pain Foundation, and a founder and charter member of the World Institute of Pain. In May 2005 he served a three-year term as President of WIP, and presided over the 4th WIP World Congress in September 2007 in Budapest, Hungary, an event that was attended by 1,800 physicians from 72 countries. He has served with the FIPP Examination since it began in 2001.[7]

Racz holds the certificate of Diplomat with the American College of Pain Management, the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Pain Medicine, Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice awarded by the WIP and the American Board of Interventional Pain Practice (ABIPP) certification awarded by ASIPP and WIP. Racz advocates high standards of certification and training among pain physicians, and has devoted his career working toward the advancement of those goals. He has earned numerous awards and honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) which was presented to him in September 2004. He is listed in all editions (1992–2005) of The Best Doctors in America. In July 2006 he received the Moricca Award, the highest award presented by the Italian Pain Society.[7]

Racz has published numerous book chapters and journal articles describing his techniques in spinal cord and peripheral nerve stimulation, neurolysis, radiofrequency thermocoagulation and other interventional procedures used in management of pain.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Author Details for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome". Intech. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Memories of escape from Hungary still burn bright". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. November 5, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Soviets Put Brutal End To Hungarian Revolution". This Day In History - November 4th. The History Channel. 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Hungarian Uprising of 1956". 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ Racz, Gabor B. (1989). Techniques of Neurolysis. Current Management of Pain, Vol. 4. Springer U.S. p. Acknowledgement. ISBN 978-1-4899-6723-7. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Gabor B. Racz, MD, ABIPP, FIPP, Grover Murray Professor" (PDF). Kenes. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Paula Brashear (March 31, 2008). "CURRICULUM VITAE Gabor B. Racz, M.D. Ch.B. DABPM, FIPP". TTUHSC International Pain Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  8. ^ P. Prithvi Raj, Leland Lou, Serdar Erdine, Peter S. Staats, Steven D. Waldman, Gabor Racz, Michael Hammer, David Niv, Ricardo Ruiz-Lopez, James E. Heavne (2008). Interventional Pain Management: Image-Guided Procedures. Saunders. ISBN 978-1-4160-3844-3. 
  9. ^ "Intractable Pain Therapy Using a New Epidural Catheter". Journal of the American Medical Association. August 6, 1982. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Development-New Facility to Expand Research and Treatment for Pain". Texas Tech Today. p. Vol 1, pg 4. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Spine: Spinal Catheter Technique Minimal Invasive Epidural Catheter Technique - the Racz Method". Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Racz Procedure". APM Spine and Sports. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Open Science Open Minds". InTech Open Access Publisher. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Racz Caudal Neurolysis". Laser Spine Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  15. ^ Kulkarni KR, Kadam AI, Namazi IJ (Nov–Dec 2010). "Efficacy of stellate ganglion block with an adjuvant ketamine for peripheral vascular disease of the upper limbs". Indian J Anaesth (Indiana Journal of Anesthesiology) 54 (6): 546–51. doi:10.4103/0019-5049.72645. PMC 3016576. PMID 21224973. 
  16. ^ John Davis (November 10, 2005). "Procedure uses phenol, Botox to help restore normalcy to patients - Putting a stop to pain". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Gabor B. Racz, MD, FIPP, DABIPP". World Institute of Pain. Retrieved April 4, 2014.