In recent years, surgeons have fine-tuned their techniques in ways that allow them to simplify operations that were once major, involved procedures. These innovative methods offer a multitude of benefits for patients that include:
• Smaller incisions
• Less trauma to the surrounding tissues
• Decreased blood loss
• Lower rates of infection
• Faster healing and recovery times
Recent stories in the media discussing the benefits of minimally invasive spine procedures and laser spine surgery have many patients wondering about the difference between the two procedures.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
The appearance of minimally invasive spine surgery in operating rooms is one of the most significant medical breakthroughs in orthopedics to date. Previously, surgeons performed traditional, open operations by making large incisions that disrupted healthy muscle and tissue. They then had to use retractors to pull the incision open in order to visualize and reach the target area. The large amount of tissue involvement and exposure resulted in longer recovery periods, more pain, and elevated infection rates.
During minimally invasive spine surgery, a small incision is made that allows a tube shaped retractor, less than an inch in diameter, to be placed in the patient. The retractor allows the surgeon to visualize the site internally and insert surgical tools during the operation. After the procedure, the incision is closed with sutures or staples, and the patient is usually discharged within 24 hours.
Laser Spine Surgery
Contrary to popular belief, laser spine surgery is not a specific type of surgery. Some physicians opt to use laser-cutting devices during their procedures rather than traditional scalpels. There is really no benefit to using a laser over a scalpel, and the use of one or the other is determined by the orthopedic surgeon’s preference and skill set. The only significant difference that is made by the use of a laser in spine surgery is in disc removal. Rather than resecting and removing the disc with a scalpel, a laser is used to heat up the tissue and vaporize it. Lasers are used to resect bone and tissue in both open procedures and minimally invasive surgery.
Interested in learning more about motion-preserving spine surgeries? Perhaps you’re wondering if you’re a good candidate for one of these procedures? Call The Spine Institute in Beverly Hills at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation.