Minimally invasive stabilization surgery — what to expect prior to surgery

If you are considering spinal fusion to help treat your chronic back pain, it can be expected that you are feeling slightly apprehensive about undergoing such a complex procedure. In fact, most patients that we treat for chronic neck and back pain admit to being nervous prior to the surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we understand that considering a spinal fusion can be daunting. Typically, patients who undergo a fusion surgery have already tried months and years of conservative pain treatment with no lasting results. Surgery is often considered the last ray of hope for many people who suffer from debilitating pain daily. If you are searching for information about spinal fusion, you are most likely searching for a little glimmer of hope that you can get back to your normal life.

We are here to walk with you every step of the way and help to provide you with the information you need to help you make the best decision about your treatment options. Part of combatting the fear that surrounds spinal fusion surgery is educating patients about what is involved in the surgery process and what patients can expect before and after the procedure. As you continue to research spinal fusions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time with questions or concerns.

Spinal fusion offered at Laser Spine Institute — minimally invasive stabilization surgery

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer an effective alternative to traditional open back fusion. Our minimally invasive stabilization procedure is performed through a small incision, sparing the surrounding muscles and tissues from being cut or disrupted during the process. Once the spine is accessed, the surgeon will remove the damaged disc that is compressing a nerve in the spinal cord and causing you pain. Once the disc is removed, an implant will be inserted into the empty disc slot to immediately stabilize the spine. Additional implants or bone grafts may be needed if a condition has worsened with time.

Preoperative expectations

Prior to your surgery, you will receive a call from our care team instructing you on what to expect during your Patient Experience at Laser Spine Institute. Your Patient Experience leading up to your surgery will consist of meeting your surgeon and nurses and undergoing some simple medical examinations to prepare you for the surgical procedure. Here is what you can expect during your preoperative Patient Experience:

  • Patient evaluation — On your first day at our surgery center, you will be scheduled for a Patient Evaluation. During your evaluation, our medical staff will perform a physical examination which may include blood work and an EKG if you did not bring a recent EKG report with you. The purpose of your physical examination is to determine if you are still a good candidate for our surgery. This may seem redundant since the surgery has already been scheduled, but we want to make sure that your health and/or your spine condition has not worsened in the short time between your initial consultation and your Patient Experience. If something has changed in your health condition, our medical staff will work with you to find a plan of action to treat your condition.
  • Diagnostic imaging — If you have an MRI that has been taken less than six months prior to your surgery date, we recommend that you bring a copy of your MRI with you to our facility. If you do not have a recent MRI, our diagnostic team can perform in MRI for you during your Patient Experience. Prior to your surgery, you will be required to get an X-ray. If the Laser Spine Institute facility you are visiting does not have an MRI or X-ray service available, we will find a third-party medical facility to perform these tasks for you during your stay with us.
  • MRI discussion — Before your surgery, you will meet with one of our physicians to review your imaging, diagnose your condition, and create a surgical plan of action to treat your pain. This will also be an opportunity for you to discuss any questions or concerns you have about the surgery with the physician.
  • Fluoroscopic-guided spinal injections — After reviewing your imaging, your physician might require additional fluoroscopic-guided testing to determine the exact location of your pain. This allows our surgeons to be exactly precise and minimally invasive during the surgery. The testing involves injecting a small amount of anesthesia into specific areas of your spine to determine the location of your pain. This is especially helpful if you have a large area of your spine affected by a spine condition and we need to pinpoint the compressed nerve causing your pain.
  • Neurological testing — While numbness and tingling in the extremities is often associated with spine conditions, these can also be symptoms of non-spinal conditions. If an assessment of your symptoms and medical history indicates that you might have a non-spinal condition causing your pain and numbness, the physician might order specific neurological testing to determine the best route for your treatment.
  • Spine Care Consultant — Immediately following your MRI discussion, if you have not been ordered additional tests, you will meet with your Spine Care Consultant to go over a summary of your previous appointments and to discuss the itinerary and guidelines for your upcoming surgery and postoperative care. This is your last appointment before your surgery, so be sure to ask questions and gather all of the answers you need to feel confident about your procedure.

Throughout your entire Patient Experience, our care team will be with you to guide you through what to expect and to help answer any questions you have along the way. If you would like more information about the minimally invasive stabilization surgeries we offer, contact us to schedule a review of your MRI and determine your candidacy for one of our procedures.