Laser spine surgery utilizes a laser to lacerate the spine structures to alleviate nerve compression and relieve pain. Patients who undergo this minimally invasive spine surgery experience minimal pain, less tissue damage, and faster recovery time compared to other extensive surgeries. Continue reading to learn more about the process and how it works.
Laser spine surgery
Laser spine surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where the doctor uses a small incision to reach the spine’s structures. Unlike open back surgery that requires large incisions in the back to reach the spine, this procedure causes less scarring and injury to nearby structures. The use of a laser beam for cutting, instead of traditional surgical tools, differentiates laser spine surgery from other minimally invasive procedures. However, the first incision is created with a regular surgical scalpel.
The laser is short for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. The focused light beam produces powerful heat energy that cuts through soft tissues. It is primarily used for discectomy, a surgical procedure to remove a part of a herniated or bulging disc that is pressing against the nerve roots and resulting in a compressed nerve root. The resulting pain is called sciatica. Nerve root compression is also related to conditions like spinal stenosis and spinal cord tumors.
Getting started with the procedure
The doctor will request imaging tests (x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) of the spine to ascertain the location of the nerve root compression and the underlying cause. Laser spine surgery can also function for nerve ablation, which entails burning and destroying the nerve fibers sending chronic pain signals to the brain.
Patients will receive instructions on what to do in the days and hours leading up to the surgery. Patients will be advised to remain physically active, consume a healthy diet, and quit smoking before the surgical procedure to ensure proper healing and seamless recovery. They will also need to avoid certain medications that may cause excessive bleeding or counteract the anesthesia used during the procedure. Patients must inform the doctor of all forms of medications and supplements for their own safety. Laser spine surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis, and patients will need to arrange for transportation back home.
For the procedure, the medical team will place an IV to administer fluids and medications. Once anesthesia kicks in, the doctor will sterilize the skin around the spine, making an incision of less than an inch to reach the problematic nerve roots. After finding the affected disc, the doctor will insert a small laser into the incision to cut through the disc responsible for the compression. After removing the cut disc, they will close the incision area. Patients will be monitored and able to leave as soon as the anesthesia’s effects start to wear off.
After laser spine surgery, patients will be able to return to work after some days, but complete recovery may take up to three months. The procedure works for managing spine-related conditions. You should discuss with the doctor to learn if the surgery is suitable for your condition.
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