Back Fusion Confusion
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 02:51

For years, the gold standard in spine treatment for degenerative disc disease, herniated disc or bulging discs that didn't respond to conservative treatment has been traditional open back discectomy and back fusion - seriously invasive procedures that cause both internal and external scarring and have extremely painful and lengthy recoveries.  Many patients opted to live with the pain rather than undergo back fusion, particularly since adjacent segment disease after fusion is common.  Our spine center has had an extremely high success rate with minimally invasive endoscopic foraminotomy as an effective alternative to back fusion.

We use a pea-sized incision to access the target area via an endoscope, avoiding trauma to adjacent tissue. By carefully manipulating tools inside the spine, the disc is preserved and doesn't require fusion.  Patients are able to walk out of the office and return home the same day.   In most cases, the entire recovery process takes only a few days, with patients walking and starting physical therapy the day of or day following surgery.

So why do many physicians still recommend back fusion?  In many cases, endoscopic spine procedures didn't exist or were in their infancy when they were in medical school.  For others, it is easier to go with something you know, rather than to take the time to learn about new spine procedures.  

Fortunately, the internet allows patients to research various medical treatments and explore their options.   Edward Wahl is one patient who is extremely glad he did.

Mr. Wahl could barely get out of bed due to a workplace injury that caused unbearable sciatica pain from two bulging discs.  After months of unsuccessful therapy, his pain management physician sent him to an orthopedic surgeon who said back fusion was needed.  Just three days before his scheduled open back surgery, Wahl cancelled it.

"My wife had open back surgery for a herniated disc, and still has problems and scars, and I didn't want that," commented Wahl.   "While doing my research, I saw how much more invasive surgery was and I discovered endoscopic procedures that were being used to treat bulging discs without fusion's scarring and long recovery time.  After more research, I set up an appointment with Dr. Bryan Massoud. I was impressed when his team told me exactly how they could help me and what would happen, so we scheduled the surgery." 

Wahl stated, "I walked out of the building that afternoon and have had 100% back pain relief.  Now, just two weeks after surgery, I went to the mall to walk and had no pain.  My pain management doctor is so impressed that he asked for Dr. Massoud's contact information."

At Spine Centers of America, we're always available to review your medical condition and MRIs to evaluate whether an endoscopic procedure is appropriate for your spine condition.

For additional information about our treatment options or to speak with a spine specialist call 877-722-6008 today.