About Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally Invasive Benefits

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ll patients faced with the need for spinal surgery want a minimally invasive procedure, and they should! A well-executed, minimally invasive surgery is associated with smaller incisions, less pain, easier and faster recovery, and better results that last.

Some surgeons will tell you a minimally invasive surgery is performed through a smaller incision than traditional ‘open’ surgery, but a smaller incision is only part of what makes surgery minimally invasive.

What is a minimally invasive surgery?

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  • It is about understanding your specific goals and needs in order to design a solution that fits you as an individual.
  • It is about being able to consider different options.
  • It is a holistic approach that stresses education, understanding, and preparation throughout the entire process from pre-surgery through full recovery.
  • It is always done through the smallest possible incision.
  • It requires an accurate diagnosis and to “pinpoint” and isolate the source of your painful problem to minimize the magnitude of your surgery.
  • It is a well thought out, well designed, and well executed procedure that fixes the painful damaged part of your spine without interfering with and/or altering normal parts.  “If it is not broken, leave it alone.”
  • Its goal is to repair and rebuild damaged parts of the spine in a way that will preserve your function and mobility.
  • It is about your surgeon taking the time to learn, practice (in a laboratory setting) and perfect new techniques using advanced technologies.
  • It is about exploring all possible options and combining different surgical techniques to deliver the best function and longest lasting outcome.
  • When a problem is painful and debilitating but not dangerous (meaning it won’t cause permanent painful damage to nerves), techniques like laser surgery can be used to mask or hide the pain.

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What is not a minimally invasive surgery?

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– It is not a one surgical technique fits all approach.

It is more than a small hole.  A surgeon can damage the normal structures inside you through the even the smallest incision.  Think about how a bullet enters the body through a small hole and wreaks havoc.

It is not about using Band-Aid techniques that temporarily hide or mask painful problems that will eventually return and possibly lead to permanent, painful and disabling nerve damage.

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When is a minimally invasive surgery necessary?

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Lumbar spinal stenosis, lumbar disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy, cervical stenosis, cervical disc herniation, cervical radiculopathy, cervical myelopathy, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament and other less common problems cause pain and nerve damage by directly pressing on important and delicate nerves inside the spine.  When these problems are severe and do not improve with nonsurgical treatments, surgery may become necessary.   Continued, severe pressure on the spinal nerves can lead to permanent nerve injury resulting in chronic pain, weakness, and in the extreme cases, paralysis.

Minimally invasive surgical solutions for these problems must include directly removing pressure from the pinched nerves to avoid nerve damage.

Some minimally invasive surgical procedures can disable the body from being able to sense pain from a pinched, damaged nerve.  Masking or hiding the pain can result in immediate but temporary relief.  Continued nerve pressure will result in permanent nerve damage, pain, weakness and possibly paralysis.

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When is it OK to use minimally invasive procedures that mask or hide painful problems?

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There are a number of spine problems that are excruciatingly painful and debilitating to patients but are not “dangerous”.  Untreated, they will not cause permanent nerve damage, weakness, or paralysis.  These problems just hurt, and can hurt a-lot.  The most common “disabling painful but not dangerous” problem is facet joint syndrome.  Others include post laminectomy syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome and chronic sprain syndrome.  Simply masking the pain can be life changing for those suffering from these afflictions.

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Is laser spine surgery a safe route?

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The laser is a very effective tool for burning and disabling nerves that normally sense pain.  Relief is immediate and seemingly magical.  The laser is useful and safe for back and neck pain problems that are not caused by nerve pressure such as facet joint syndrome, post laminectomy syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome and chronic sprain syndrome.

The laser will also disable the ability to sense pain from potentially dangerous nerve pressure.  Relief is temporary and will usually last for a few months, but that untreated nerve pressure can lead to disabling nerve damage.

Imagine having a nail in your foot that’s causing excruciation pain.  You can laser the nerve to that area, and have immediate pain relief.  When the nerve re-grows, and it will, the pain will return and the nail will have damaged your foot even more.   This approach is not minimally invasive and certainly is not an effective solution to your problem!

The laser is not a permanent solution for lumbar spinal stenosis, lumbar disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy, cervical stenosis, cervical disc herniation, cervical radiculopathy, cervical myelopathy, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament and other painful spine problems resulting from nerve pressure.

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