In the spine, nerve compression and subsequent pain can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spurs, thickened ligaments, and other degenerative or traumatic problems. When a nerve root that is part of the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, this can cause “sciatica,” leading to pain, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness in the lower back, buttock, and leg.
Laser spine surgery can be utilized to decompress the nerve and relieve nerve dysfunction. This surgery is much less invasive than other types of traditional back surgery.
Depending on your specific physical needs, there are different types of spine surgery. Laser spine surgery is not for every back pathology or problem. After consultation and careful examination, Dr. Stieber will recommend a traditional (or open approach), minimally-invasive spine surgery, robotic spine surgery, or laser spine surgery.
During this surgery, a long incision would be made in the back, and the muscles and other tissue would be moved away to access and correct the affected area of the spine. The subsequent hospitalization and recovery period after this surgery is usually longer.
During Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, a unique tool is used, called a tubular retractor, to create a small channel from which to access the surgical site. Various specialized microsurgical tools are employed during the surgery to operate on the spine. MISS can lead to less pain and a faster recovery because it’s less invasive. You will be able to return to work in days to weeks.
During robotic spine surgery, the procedure technique begins with a small incision, then utilizes a cutting-edge robotic system. The robot’s computer system combines a CT scan of the patient’s anatomy with special x-rays taken in the operating room of the actual patient to tell the robot where the patient’s spine is located. Dr. Stieber can point to a precise location on the CT scan and the robot will aim for that site, processing what the navigation system sees in real time. Dr. Stieber will use the robotic guidance and navigation to place implants or do other spinal operations with precision. The procedure time and recovery time are shorter than the same procedure would be if done using the traditional method.
During laser back surgery, a laser is used to remove portions of tissue located around the spinal cord and nerves of the back. It is used for very specific conditions such as nerve compression around the spinal nerves or spinal cord. The recovery time can be as short as 7-10 days.
To perform laser spine surgery, a medical license is needed, but the doctor is not legally required to be a trained surgeon. Some anesthesiologists or other doctors without actual spine surgical training attempt to perform these procedures. This makes the importance of choosing the right surgeon, who is highly trained and expert, paramount.
A laser beam is an intense source of heat that, while focused, is still less precise than other surgical tools. This technology requires extreme expertise and control to avoid damaging the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Laser surgery can be inadequately understood and used by people who are not highly qualified for this type of precision procedure. In the hands of less practiced technicians, laser surgery can result in increased nerve damage when compared to traditional surgery techniques. When you’re looking for a doctor to perform this procedure, you will want a trained surgeon with experience and expertise who knows the technology and procedure extremely well.