Back Fusion Surgery or Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Friday, 02 September 2011 14:54

There are many known drawbacks of using back fusion surgery to correct problems in the lumbar spine. Now that many patients are opting for minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic spine surgery as an alternative to fusion, some spine surgeons who are only trained in the former operation have become motivated to brush up on new techniques used in their trade.

Some of the noteworthy fusion-related controversies include the high cost of using synthetic bone substitutes or implants. Also, there has been much debate in the field of spine surgery as to whether fusion is effective for patients with degenerative disc disease, disc herniation or lower back pain. For this reason, an increasing number of insurance companies deny coverage for people with these spine conditions who want to have the open-back fusion surgery.

Individuals with chronic low back pain account for a high percentage of those who receive back pain treatments each year. According to the American Chiropractic Association, one-quarter on U.S. adults have experienced lower back pain lasting at least 24 hours during the previous three months.

Recently, an article published by Connecticut-based WFSB3 News reported that two surgeons have created a type of cage that is similar to those currently used in fusion procedures, but that doesn't require screws to hold it in place.

The experts said the new device will allow back fusion surgeries to be completed faster. However, this does not eliminate the risks associated with hardware failure or blood loss during the procedure.

Conversely, endoscopic spine surgery does not require cages or screws. Instead, a board certified spine surgeon uses a thin tubular device to access affected discs through a tiny one-quarter inch incision.

This not only reduces the risk of blood loss during surgery, but also minimizes the chances of patients sustaining damage to the surrounding muscles and allows for a speedier recovery time, compared to open-back operations.

"Traditional back fusion surgery generally involves at least two scars, each approximately 4 or more inches long externally, and many more scars internally where tissues are cut," says Dr. Bryan Massoud, a board certified orthopedic spine surgeon at Spine Centers of America and assistant clinical professor at Seton Hall Graduate School of Medicine.

These considerations may make endoscopic spine surgery the best option for patients who do not achieve back pain relief through non-surgical interventions.

Give us a call today at 877-722-6008 to discuss which spinal option is best for you.