Advantages of Minimally Invasive Laser Spine Surgery
For many patients, laser spine surgery has becomea medically acceptable alternative to what once wasconsidered the go-to procedure for those sufferingfrom debilitating symptoms associated withdegenerative spine conditions – spinal fusion.Perhaps the main reason minimally invasive spinesurgery has taken such hold in recent years is itsdramatic contrast with open spine surgery. Thiscontrast is evident in almost every aspect.Minimally invasive spine surgery has the advantageover open spine surgery before, during, and afterthe respective procedures.
Preparation for Minimally Invasive Spine SurgeryBefore a patient undergoes minimally invasivelaser spine surgery, he or she already is at anadvantage because there is much evidence thatthese types of procedures carry significantly lessrisk for infection and other potentialcomplications. Therefore, the patient isgenerally in a better state of mind going into theminimally invasive procedure, because there isgreater cause for optimism.
The IncisionOpen spine surgery such as spinal fusion requires an incision of fourinches or more in order for the surgeon to have adequate access to thespinal anatomy. The incision may be made in the neck, throat, back,side, or abdomen. Muscles are often cut in the process, which extendsthe amount of time required for healing and increases the chance forinfection.Minimally invasive laser spine surgery, on the other hand, requiresonly a small incision – usually less than one inch. No muscle tissue isdissected, because the muscles are moved aside to make room for theinsertion of the small tubes that provide access for the surgical toolsand an endoscope (camera) to allow the surgeon to perform his or herwork.
Anatomical IntegrityLaser spine surgery and other minimallyinvasive, outpatient back and neckprocedures typically require the removal ofonly the exact portion of the spinal anatomythat is causing the painful nervecompression. Open spine operations thatrequire spinal fusion entail the removal of asignificant portion of spinalanatomy, followed by the insertion of metaland plastic stabilizing hardware and bonegraft material intended to permanentlyimmobilize the affected vertebral segment.
Less RiskAs mentioned, a smaller incision is used for laser spine surgery than foropen spine surgery. Because of this, is there is less risk ofinfection, nerve damage, internal bleeding, and other problems thatcan occur during and after any spine surgery.Of course, with most minimally invasive procedures, there is absolutelyno risk of one of the most common post-surgical complications inspinal fusion – hardware or bone graft rejection. This, naturally, isbecause when no spinal fusion is done, no stabilizing hardware orbone graft material is used. That said, in very recent times there aresome surgeons and surgical centers offering minimally invasive spinestabilization procedures, which are essentially a type of spinal fusionperformed through a small incision and an endoscope.
RecoveryOne of the greatest advantages of laser spinesurgery when contrasted with open spinesurgery is the much shorter period of timerequired for recuperation and recovery. Whilespinal fusion can take up to a year for fullrecovery, most patients who undergo laser spineprocedures and other minimally invasive spinesurgery are able to return to reasonable activityat work or in the home within one month.
One DrawbackOne potential drawback of laser spine surgery and other minimallyinvasive spine procedures is that not every patient who requires neck orback surgery is a candidate. The orthopedic experts at most reputablelaser spine centers can give you an initial indication whether you are acandidate by analyzing your MRI or CT scan.Much depends on the location of the nerve compression, the underlyingdegenerative spine condition causing the symptoms, and the overall healthof the patient. The place to start when considering laser spine surgery iswith your personal physician, who can give you an initial prognosis andhelp you determine the best course of action when confronting neck orback pain related to bone spurs, a herniated disc, a bulging disc, or someother anatomical abnormality caused by spinal injury or age-relateddeterioration.