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Degenerative Disc Disease Procedure


In the past, spinal fusion surgery was frequently prescribed for those not responding to conservative methods for suppression of degenerative disc disease-related symptoms. The theory was, if movement in the spine yields symptoms, then elimination of movement should prevent further pain. Spinal fusion is a highly invasive operation requiring the excision of a significant portion of the spinal anatomy. It entails several steps: First, one or more large incisions are created in various locations. Second, the underlying muscles, tendons, ligaments and investing fascia are severed while approaching the site of the actual area to be fused. Third, intervertebral discs are completely removed, including the periosteum (bone covering tissue) of the endplates of the vertebra to be fused. Fourth, bone fragments from the patient’s own body or another source are packed into the void once occupied by disc. Fifth, metallic hardware devices are affixed to the vertebra and connected or linked together to securely immobilize the vertebra being fused. Sixth, the major disrupted muscles, tendons, etc., are sutured back into approximately their original position (minor structures are ignored). And seventh, the skin incisions are closed. Spinal fusion surgery requires hours to complete and involves many significant risks. After the surgery, the patient may look forward to a long (many months) and often difficult recovery period.

There must be a better way. Accomplishing an effective treatment while maintaining the least disruptive course of action is the fundamental idea upon which Laser Spine Institute was conceived and developed. The physicians at Laser Spine Institute have perfected innovative, highly successful, minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of many spinal conditions. When conservative non-invasive treatment has failed, more invasive treatments are required. In the past, “more invasive” meant traditional open spinal surgery, often spinal fusion. “More invasive” no longer must mean traditional open spinal surgery. It now may mean minimally invasive spine surgery.

The minimally invasive alternative

With the development of microelectronics, a camera can be the size of a dot on paper and have resolution better than the human eye. This technology is being applied in medicine, specifically in minimally invasive surgery. Laser Spine Institute is in the forefront of these advances. Over the past two decades, advances in the surgical use of minimally invasive technology have allowed many patients with chronic neck or back pain to avoid traditional open back surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, our procedures involve the use of small tubes and microscopic video equipment, allowing the surgeon to access the spine without making large incisions. Normal structures no longer need to be destroyed to gain access and visibility of structures needing repair. Only a small portion of bone, disc or other tissue is removed, eliminating the need for stabilizing hardware. Not everyone is a candidate for minimally invasive procedures, but those who are enjoy the following benefits:

  • Treatment on an outpatient basis
  • About a one-month recovery period
  • A small (less than 1 inch) incision
  • No muscle cutting or tearing
  • A 96 percent satisfaction rate

When is a minimally invasive degenerative disc disease procedure viable?

Most patients find that they are able to manage the neck pain, back pain and other symptoms associated with DDD through a regimen of conservative treatment methods. These methods often include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stretching, exercise, posture training and more. However, if symptoms remain debilitating after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may be suggested. Before consenting to open neck or back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the benefits of a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced techniques. We will provide a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan to determine your viability for candidacy.

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