If you complete a google search about spine surgery, there’s almost for certain going to be a pop up about laser spine surgery. Laser spine surgery has boomed, and many patients are unaware of the differences between this technique of surgery and other advanced surgical techniques that are already available.Laser spine surgery has made a big impact in the spine world but their procedures have yet to show significant outcomes compared to current techniques.
Laser spine surgery uses endoscopes to visualize the area in which surgery is to be performed. This technique only allows a 2D view of the structures being worked on. With these pole–like endoscopes, sensitive structures can be compressed and pinched, such as spinal nerves or the spinal cord, without knowing. Depth perception is crucial in performing spine surgery, as collateral damage could be catastrophic when working with the spine. Spinal fluid leaks and dural tears are complications that could potentially arise more often with these type of techniques. The lasers used work very well on soft tissue structures, but as efficient with bony structures.
So what is the alternative? Currently, minimally invasive spine surgery with microscopes (MIS) has taken the role as an advanced technique with minimal disruption of collateral tissue. For example, if a patient has a disc herniation that needs to be removed in the lower back, a MIS technique can be performed in an incision of less than one inch. Yes, that is correct—spine surgery performed with an INCISION OF UNDER AN INCH. The advantage with using MIS technique is that 3D depth perception is preserved. Additionally, if significant bony abnormalities are present, they can be removed easily, in contrast to a laser technique. Arthritic conditions commonly have osteophyte (bone spurs) that also need to be addressed, and this can be accomplished with an MIS technique. MIS surgery has been shown to be equal in terms of outcomes compared to the standard open procedures. This means MIS surgeries have faster recoveries, and have the same long–term outcomes compared to open procedures. MIS has many advantages, and is certainly worth considering when surgery is the last option. If you have back or neck pain, and are considering surgery, come see what Minimally Invasive Micro Surgery is about at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.