Laser spine surgery, sometimes called laser back surgery, was developed as part of the current trend in surgery all over the world to make any type of operative procedure as minimally invasive as possible by developing techniques that would require making only a small incision, through which an endoscope is passed and problematic tissues are burned away with a laser. Such procedures result in less trauma and minimal blood loss for the patient in comparison to major operations. As a result, recent years have seen the rise of advanced techniques that would allow minimally-invasive operations on the spine.
Types of Laser Spine Surgery
Although there are many types of laser spine surgery that are equivalent in therapeutic goal to regular major spine operations, the main difference lies in that only an incision of ¼ to ¾ of an inch is made on the operative site and a laser-equipped endoscope is inserted into the cut to vaporize and burn away troublesome, pain-causing bone and tissue instead of slicing it away with a scalpel.
Laser spine surgery, unlike major spine surgery, is not performed under general anesthesia. Instead, it is done while the patient is under what is called “twilight sleep” or conscious sedation, wherein the patient could not feel any pain but is awake enough to answer doctor’s questions and say if relief is felt. The anesthesia for conscious sedation is given via a percutaneous injection.
One advantage of this procedure is that muscles and soft tissues are spread instead of cut as in major invasive surgeries. There is also minimal blood loss because any severed blood vessels are immediately cauterized. These factors lead to a shorter recovery time for the patient. He or she can return to work within 2 weeks, and live without any restrictions in less than 6 weeks. Other advantages are that this procedure makes it easier to operate on obese patients and only a few patients would require postoperative pain medications. Some of these laser spine surgeries could even be performed in an outpatient setting.
Depending upon the spine institute and pain management center and its facilities, and the training of its surgeons, not all hospitals would be equipped to perform certain types of endoscopic spinal surgeries. So, before even choosing to go under the laser, one should check out the various health centers that do offer these procedures and see if they are equipped and their doctors are competent to perform endoscopic spine surgery.
Laser Spine Surgery Procedures
A very good spine center that offers a wide variety of laser spine surgery procedures is MicroSpine. Among the surgeries that their doctors could perform endoscopically are…
- Foraminotomy = removal of the roof of the intervertebral foramen
- Foraminoplasty = procedure of enlarging the intervertebral foramen in cases of foramenal stenosis
- Laminotomy = procedure that involves removing a part of the lamina of the vertebral arch in order to decompress the affected spinal cord or nerve root
- Facetectomy = excision of the articular facet of a vertebra
- Facet Joint Surgery
- Corpectomy = removal of a vertebral body
- Spinal Fusion Alternatives
- Laminoforaminoplasty = Altering the lamina and foramen through the removal of bone in order to prevent further impingement on nerves
- Endoscopic Hardware Removal
- Thoracic Discectomy
- Ligament Injury Surgery
- Sacroiliac Joint Surgery