Laser Spine Surgery vs. Traditional Spine Surgery

April 6, 2018 | Surgery


Upon visiting a spine specialist for help with back pain, nine times out of 10 your physician will suggest nonsurgical or minimally invasive treatment options before surgery. Many back issues can be resolved through physical therapy or injections. In some cases, this is all a patient needs for pain relief. Surgery should be the last resort when it comes to treating the neck or back. However, this decision should only be made after months of nonsurgical attempts and persistent or worsened back pain. Back surgery can sound intimidating and painful. Luckily, there are minimally invasive surgery options that perform better than open spine surgery and result in faster recovery.

Types of back surgery:

  • Discectomy: removing the herniated portion of a disc to relieve the pressure on nearby nerves as they exit the spinal canal.
  • Laminectomy: removing the bone overlying the spinal canal. This can free nerve roots, remove a tumor, remove a bone spur, or allow your surgeon to perform certain types of fusion procedures.
  • Fusion: a spinal fusion that permanently connects two or more bones in your spine. This can relieve pain by adding stability to a spinal fracture. It can also be used to eliminate painful motion between vertebrae that can result from a degenerated disc.
  • Cervical spine: used to correct the curve and prevent pain and deformity from scoliosis.  Surgery for scoliosis is done through the placement of hooks, rods, and screws. This can be followed by a fusion, so the corrected position is made permanent. The fusion may be done through a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion or an extreme lateral interbody fusion.

Traditional Spine Surgery vs. Laser Spine Surgery

Traditional spine surgery

Also referred to as open spine surgery, this procedure involves a long incision where muscles and ligaments are pulled away from the spine to gain access during the surgery. This type of surgery typically requires a longer recovery time because it is more invasive. Open spine surgery has historically been the standard to treat many common neck and back problems. As is the case with any surgery, open spine surgery can be risky. Some risks of open spine surgery include tissue and nerve damage, bleeding, infection and scarring. Open spine surgery may be recommended by your physician over other types of surgery, like laser spine surgery. This is usually the case when it comes to certain back disorders. In any surgery, it is important to find a reputable physician that will consider your best interests, to make sure the procedure and recovery go as smooth as possible.

Laser spine surgery

Laser spine surgery combined with minimally invasive surgery techniques help successfully treat back problems with far less interruption to normal muscles and ligaments with statistically greater results. Access and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues. Plus, the recovery time is shorter with less visible scars, reduced pain, and minimal blood loss. Generally, the overall cost of minimally invasive procedures is lower. This type of surgery is able to be performed on an outpatient basis in a local ambulatory surgery center, which saves the cost of a hospital stay. Although this procedure is minimally invasive, it is still a surgery and should not be taken lightly. The risks are similar to that of open spine surgery and it requires downtime after the procedure.

The goal of any spine treatment is to address the underlying problem. In some cases, this requires surgery. Knowing your options and what comes with them is the best way to find a treatment that’s right for you. All of the surgeons at Coastal Spine are experienced and fellowship-trained. We perform hundreds of these procedures every year and have found that laser spine surgery combined with minimally invasive techniques and proper evaluation by our experienced spine team yields positive results.

To find out the best option for you, take a look at some common treatments and schedule a free consultation with us!