Spinal surgery — is fusion right for me?

Patients often feel mixed emotions when it comes to spinal surgery. On one hand, the topic of spine surgery evokes fear and anxiety because of the possible risks associated with traditional open back surgery. Patients wonder if the possible risks outweigh the possible benefits of feeling better, and they inevitably ask themselves, “What if this surgery leaves me in worse condition than I’m in already?”

On the other hand, patients who have suffered from chronic neck or back pain for years might rush into spinal fusion, ready for anything that could possibly reduce their pain and help them get back to the life they so desperately miss. In their rush for a cure, these patients might not always take the time to research their spinal fusion options and might rapidly choose a more invasive procedure when they could have chosen a safer and effective alternative treatment.

If you are considering a spinal fusion surgery to ease your chronic neck or back pain, we implore you to research all of your surgical options before deciding on your treatment. Whether you are terrified of spinal fusion or you are rushing into the operating room, your hesitation or haste may cause you to miss out on a safer, more effective treatment alternative than traditional open back fusion.

Facts about traditional open back spinal fusion

Traditional open back fusion is a surgery that has been used for decades to treat moderate to severe spine conditions that have compressed a nerve root in the spinal canal and caused patients to experience chronic, debilitating pain. While this type of surgery has served some patients well, it also comes with several risks due to the highly invasive nature of the procedure. Take a moment to review the facts and risks associated with traditional open back fusion so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs:

  • A large incision cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine, increasing risk of infection and excessive blood loss.
  • A significant portion of bone and/or disc material is removed to decompress the nerve root.
  • The spine is stabilized through bone grafts, rods and screws, permanently fusing two or more vertebrae.
  • A long recovery period is required to allow the spine to fuse properly and the surrounding muscles to heal and rebuild.
  • The excessive scar tissue from the large incision sometimes blocks the vertebrae from fusing, resulting in failed back surgery syndrome.

These details and possible risks should be researched and weighed against the possible benefits of the surgery before you decide to move forward with the procedure. However, many patients find that the risks are too severe and opt for a safer, more effective treatment alternative to traditional open back fusion.

Minimally invasive stabilization surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, we believe that patients should have a right to safer, more effective treatment than traditional open back fusion. Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery has a lower risk and shorter recovery period^ than traditional fusion because our surgeons are dedicated to continual medical advancement and patient-centered care.

Our surgery is performed through a small incision and avoids the disruption of any surrounding muscles. This allows our patients to have a shorter recovery period^ because their muscles are intact to help the spine heal and strengthen. Once the spine is accessed, the surgeon will remove the damaged disc or vertebrae and insert an implant to stabilize the spine. Our procedures are much more precise and yield better results than traditional open back fusion.

Because of our minimally invasive approach, our surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures at our seven world-class surgery centers across the country. We’ve earned a patient satisfaction score of 96 and patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^

For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive stabilization surgery and to see if you are a potential candidate for our procedures, please contact our Care Team today. Take the next step to reclaim your life from chronic neck or back pain.