If you’re a good candidate for spine surgery, your condition, physical health, and other key factors help determine the best surgical technique for your needs. In some cases, laser spine surgery may be the recommended approach.
As a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon who specializes in laser surgery, Jose Valerio, MD, can use this advanced, minimally invasive technique to treat a variety of problems, ranging from spine tumors and herniated discs to sciatic nerve pain.
In this blog, Dr. Valerio explains how laser surgery differs from conventional open surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), and what kind of advantages it offers.
Standard spine surgery options
Living with chronic back or neck pain can impair your mobility, sap your vitality, diminish your health, and undermine your mental well-being. When conservative treatments don’t give you the relief you need, you may find yourself considering surgery.
To understand the benefits of laser spine surgery, it’s important to comprehend how it differs from the two other surgical techniques that are commonly used to treat spinal conditions:
Traditional open surgery
Conventional open surgery involves making a longer incision, then moving overlying muscle and tissues aside to attain greater access to the treatment area. While this well-established approach can be very precise, it also carries an increased risk for pain and complications, and healing and recovery times can take longer.
Minimally invasive surgery
Through much smaller incisions than traditional open surgery, MISS creates a narrow tunnel directly to the surgical site, causing minimal tissue disruption or damage in the process. The site is viewed through a tiny camera, and treatment is conducted with small, specialized tools. Because it’s far less invasive, MISS is associated with less pain, fewer complications, and faster healing and recovery times.
How laser spine surgery is different
Like MISS, laser spine surgery is a minimally invasive approach that uses small incisions and causes far less tissue disruption than conventional open surgery. But instead of using small, specialized tools as MISS does, laser spine surgery uses a focused beam of light (laser energy) to target the treatment area.
Laser surgery applications
This highly targeted laser energy can be used to heat, vaporize, or coagulate any soft tissue structures that cause compression along your nerves. As such, laser spine surgery has very specific applications. Dr. Valerio can use it to address pain stemming from:
- Bulging spinal discs
- Herniated (ruptured) discs
- Nerve-binding scar tissue
- Ligament enlargement
- Spinal cord tumors
Laser surgery can shrink bulging disk material and coagulate the outer surface of a ruptured disc to seal cracks. It can also completely vaporize problematic soft tissues, including spinal cord tumors and nerve-binding scar tissue.
Often, laser surgery and MISS are combined to attain full nerve decompression. This means using the laser to remove or shrink problematic soft tissues, then using specialized MISS tools to remove or shape problematic bone tissues, such as a bone spur.
Laser spine surgery benefits
Because they both involve small incisions and minimal disturbance of healthy surrounding tissues, MISS and laser spine surgery share many of the same key advantages, including:
- Minimal postoperative pain
- Faster healing and recovery
- Reduced chance of infection
- Lower risk of complications
- Less bleeding during surgery
- Less external scar formation
Because laser spine surgery typically involves an even smaller incision than MISS, it can often be done with the aid of a local anesthetic in an outpatient setting. This means:
- Shorter overall treatment time
- Less time at the surgery center
- Minimal anesthesia exposure
Perhaps most importantly, laser spine surgery can offer a path toward lasting relief from several common causes of back and neck pain (as well as associated arm and leg pain). It can help you reclaim your life from:
- Persistent sciatic nerve symptoms
- Pain from herniated or bulging discs
- Pinched nerve pain (radiculopathy)
- Scar tissue buildup (epidural fibrosis)
- Spinal stenosis pain and numbness
- Problematic or invasive spinal tumors
Laser spine surgery comes with many benefits, but it isn’t the right solution in every case. When you see Dr. Valerio, he’ll give you a thorough evaluation, answer all of your questions, and discuss your available treatment options.
To learn more about spine surgery at the practice of Jose Valerio, MD, book an appointment over the phone today. We have offices in South Miami, Hialeah, and Weston, Florida.