Laser spine surgery (LSS) is often assumed to be a type of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). Though this is technically true in many respects, there are also a few important differences to consider. If you are at a point where spine surgery is a possible source of pain relief or management, understanding these differences can help you make a more informed decision.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
MISS involves the use of surgical techniques designed to minimize trauma to tissues and surrounding structures. It’s performed with a series of smaller incisions often less than an inch in diameter. A tube with a camera or microscope attached is inserted through one of these incisions to serve as a guide for the surgeon.
Scalpels and other regular surgical equipment are used to make cuts. Muscles and soft tissues are either avoided entirely or cut along natural planes to reduce trauma to these tissues. Patients often experience less blood loss and post-surgery discomfort and a faster recovery.
Laser Spine Surgery
Similar minimally invasive techniques are often used when LSS is performed. Cuts are made using a special type of laser instead of a scalpel. An incision is still necessary to insert the laser into the affected area of the spine, move soft tissues, and accurately direct the beam.
Contrary to popular belief, the procedure isn’t entirely performed with lasers. Other instruments are usually needed to remove bones and ligaments that can’t be treated or manipulated with only a laser. Because a laser is a straight beam of light, it may be difficult to reach awkwardly located parts of the spine.
There is rarely an immediate need to schedule spine surgery. You should have time to consult with spine surgeons in Orange County who specialize in both techniques. Ask questions specific to your condition and seek input from your regular doctor to get a better idea of what procedure is right for you.
Dr. Hamid Mir M.D. is a trusted spinal surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive procedures and alternatives to spinal fusion. To learn more about the different options for spine surgery and to schedule an in-person evaluation, call our office today at 949-860-7498.