The Two Different Types of Spine Surgery

Many times, patients suffering from neck or back pain are hesitant about making an appointment with a spine specialist. They fear that they will automatically be set on a surgical path that they are neither emotionally prepared for nor convinced that they need.

At our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey, we take a conservative approach to care, treating each patient individually and tailoring their treatment to their specific needs. We start with a thorough diagnosis and, where appropriate, with conservative treatment approaches that include pain medication and protocols including massage, exercises and physical therapy.

Some patients may get the relief that they need from injections, while for others we do end up having to recommend surgery.  When this is the case, we generally pursue a course using minimally invasive surgical techniques that make a very small incision using highly specialized equipment, including operating microscopes.

In minimally invasive surgery, our surgeon gently moves muscle and tissues out of the way to keep trauma and bleeding to a minimum and provide much faster healing and rehabilitation.

However, there are two other types of surgery you may be familiar with. They are traditional open spine surgery and laser surgery.

  • Traditional open spine surgery involves a very long incision that cuts through muscles and soft tissues. Though this provides the surgeon with the greatest possible visualization of the surgical field, it also involves much more bleeding, a higher risk of infection, a longer surgery and longer recovery time.
  • Laser surgery involves the use of a focused laser beam to cut tissue. Though laser surgery may sound like the most state-of-the-art procedure, at our practice we use it less frequently than minimally invasive surgery. It is only appropriate for specific purposes including removing spinal cord tumors, cutting away excess bone and tissue or small nerves that are the source of pain, and does not eliminate the need for an incision to allow the laser probe to be inserted. Though lasers may be used to trim away fragments of herniated disc, the procedure will not work for cases where disc disease is a result of degeneration. In both cases, a procedure known as a microdiscectomy generally provides greater precision and accuracy and less risk.

Each of these three types of surgery is appropriate for certain conditions, and our New Jersey spine specialty practice has the ability to provide whichever is best suited for you if your condition requires surgical intervention.

As always, our goal is to find the approach that will be the least intrusive and will provide the quickest relief. We will be able to guide you towards the best solution for your condition after a thorough evaluation has been performed.

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