Open back surgery

Open back surgery has historically been the standard to treat herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, foraminal stenosis and other neck and back problems. In recent years, however, minimally invasive procedures have become an increasingly popular alternative to open spine surgeries.

Both traditional open back surgery and minimally invasive surgery are usually seen as the last resort for addressing neck pain, back pain, and other symptoms caused by a degenerative spine condition. First, physicians will typically try to treat most neck pain and back pain with more conservative approaches, such as bed rest, hot and cold packs, physical therapy, pain medication and epidural steroid injections.

So what can someone expect from traditional open back surgery, and what are the advantages of minimally invasive procedures, such as surgery for the neck and back as an alternative?

For purposes of illustration, a typical timeline for traditional open back surgery is as follows:

  • The team of surgeons makes a relatively large incision to access the problematic area of the spine — this incision may be made on the neck, back, abdomen or throat
  • Surgeons possibly have to move organs and cut through tissue to reach the spine
  • The surgeon carefully addresses the problem by hand and stitches the patient shut
  • The patient is hospitalized for observation and is then is eventually discharged
  • Recovery typically lasts several months and may require pain medication and a brace
  • Relief may be immediate or incremental over time

Clearly this is major surgery, and the decision to have an open back procedure cannot be taken lightly.

Meanwhile, minimally invasive surgery, like an discectomy provides patients with a minimally-invasive, outpatient alternative. Minimally invasive surgeons are able to treat back and neck conditions through an incision about 5 millimeters long, which obviously reduces the risk of tissue damage, bleeding, infection, and scar tissue. Additionally, minimally invasive spine procedures do not require hospitalization, unlike traditional open back surgery.

Before undergoing traditional open back surgery, contact the experienced team at Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the advantages of outpatient spinal procedures. Not only do our procedures carry less risk, they also have a shorter recover time* than traditional open back surgery; our surgical outcomes show more than 80 percent of patients report improvement at three months of their surgery at Laser Spine Institute, while some patients report improvement the same day of surgery. A minimally invasive procedure at Laser Spine Institute may be just the thing you need to find relief from neck or back pain.