Surgery for low-grade spondylolisthesis — issues to consider before you consent

Spondylolisthesis surgery is sometimes recommended for patients who receive little to no relief from conservative, nonsurgical treatment. If your physician has recommended surgical treatment for your low-grade spondylolisthesis, there are a number of important issues to consider before you consent to an operation.

Nonsurgical treatments

The majority of patients who are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis do not require surgery because they find the relief they need through conservative, nonsurgical treatment. What works for one patient, however, might not work for you, and finding the optimal nonsurgical treatment regimen might require trial and error. Before consenting to surgery, ask your physician if you’ve already attempted all available nonsurgical treatments and combinations of treatments. He or she can recommend a personalized treatment plan.

Surgical approach

At one time, spondylolisthesis surgery was highly invasive and required a long, difficult rehabilitation. This type of operation, called open spine surgery, is still performed today on patients who haven’t been made aware of, or aren’t candidates for, minimally invasive spine procedures. If your physician has advised you to undergo an operation for low-grade spondylolisthesis, review the differences between traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine procedures before consenting to either operation:

Traditional open spine surgery for spondylolisthesis:

  • Requires several days of hospitalization
  • Utilizes a large incision and disruption of musculature and other soft tissue
  • Poses a risk for failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS, the worsening or continuing of symptoms following surgery for spondylolisthesis and other degenerative spine conditions), infection and other postsurgical complications
  • Can cause significant scarring
  • Requires a long, grueling rehabilitation

A minimally invasive procedure for spondylolisthesis:

  • Is performed on an outpatient basis and typically requires no hospitalization
  • Requires a small incision that causes minimal scarring
  • Spares musculature and other soft tissue of disruption
  • Poses a reduced risk for FBSS and infection
  • Requires minimal rehabilitation^ — patients are able to leave the facility the same day as their surgery

Laser Spine Institute

If your physician has recommended surgery for low-grade spondylolisthesis, you may consider a minimally invasive procedure from Laser Spine Institute as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we offer both minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that have already helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from their neck or back pain. To find out if you’re a candidate for one of our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute to receive a review of your MRI report or CT scan.