Posts Tagged ‘spine conditions’

Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Right for You?

Minimally invasive spine surgery can treat back and neck pain with a smaller incision, faster recovery and less pain. When nonsurgical spine treatments don’t relieve your spine and neck pain, spine surgery may be your best option. Thanks to new technology and advanced imaging techniques, minimally invasive spine surgery is now an option for some.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

In traditional spine surgery, your surgeon makes a 5- to 7-inch incision and moves muscle to get to your spine. This invasive approach puts you at greater risk for infection, muscle damage, scarring and pain. You can also expect a long recovery.

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a game-changer. Its benefits include:

  • Smaller incision
  • Less injury to muscles around the spine
  • Less bleeding
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay (an average two to three days)
  • Faster recovery

Am I a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is typically used when doctors can pinpoint the damaged area of the spine, such as with a herniated disc or lumbar stenosis. This procedure may be right for you if you have a condition like this.

How Does Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Work?

Your surgeon makes a 1-to 2-inch incision (ideally the length of a small paperclip) and inserts a thin device called a tubular retractor. He or she feeds tiny surgical tools through this thin passageway to remove disk or bone.

We offer many minimally invasive spine procedures at Emory, including:

Want to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery?

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About Dr. Michael

michael-keithBuilding on his training and practice at Duke and Emory, Keith Michael specializes in using both minimally invasive and traditional spine surgery techniques to treat cervical and lumbar spine problems. Each surgical procedure is tailored specifically to address the patient’s pathology and clinical complaints, while trying to minimize morbidity and downtime.

His research interests included clinical outcomes measurement, patient education tools and cost-effectiveness studies.

Takeaways from Dr. Boden’s Spine Surgery Chat

Thanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, August 25, for our live online chat on “When Should You Consider Spine Surgery?” hosted by Scott Boden, MD, director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.

If you have been told you need spine surgery, it is important to make sure you have the proper information before electing to have spine surgery. The good news is that less than 10% of patients who experience back or neck problems are actually candidates for surgery.

See all of Dr. Boden’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Below are a few highlights from the chat:

Question: I have disc degeneration at all lumbar levels, can surgery be performed, if not, what else can be done to relieve pain?

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Dr. Boden: When there is disc degeneration at all levels and the primary symptom is back pain (and not radiating leg pain), we would typically not suggest surgery. You would have to come in to see a spine specialist to fully address your pain and specific situation, though.

 

Question: If less than 10% of patients who experience back or neck problems are candidates for surgery, why is that?

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Dr. Boden: The majority of back or neck problems will resolve with time or non-operative treatments such as physical therapy or medications. Only a very small percentage will require or benefit from surgery.

 

Question: Could you walk us through a general sequence of determining whether or not a patient should consider surgery following a disc herniation, PT and epidural steroid injections? Having a hard time sorting out the difference between patience to allow healing and delaying and inevitable surgery now 2 years post injury.

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Dr. Boden: In general, a disc herniation might need surgery if the primary symptom is radiating leg pain rather than just low back pain.

 

 

The majority of disc herniations – over 90% – resolve on their own within three months. During that time steroid injections, physical therapy and medications can be tried to help relieve pain while the body heals the disc.

If the leg pain persists longer than 3 months than the ideal surgical window is between 3 and 6 months after the leg pain started. You can still get acceptable results after 2 years, but the likelihood of success is slightly smaller.

Watch as Dr. Boden shares more insight into when it’s time to consider back surgery in this Fox5 Atlanta news feature. (Note: this news segment contains advertisements and external links which are not endorsed, administered or controlled by Emory Healthcare.)

At the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, our team of highly-trained spine specialists work together to diagnose and treat cervical spine and lumbar spine conditions ranging from herniated discs to more complex problems such as spinal tumors and scoliosis.

To make an appointment with an Emory spine specialist, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form >>

 

 

Been Told you Need Spine Surgery? Be Sure to Get a Second Opinion

If you’ve been told you need spine surgery, here are some thoughts to consider first:

1) 90% of back/neck problems will resolve without surgery.

2) Rates of recommending surgery for the same problem vary widely in different parts of the country (and world), suggesting that the indications for surgery are not always clear.

3) Some spinal conditions have a high success rate after surgery, while other spinal conditions have less predictable success rates following surgery.

4) 98% of all spine surgery is technically elective surgery, meaning it should be the choice of the patient, not something mandated by the surgeon.

Patients should always take an active part in the decision-making process for spine surgery. You need to be sure you understand the likelihood of success, the possibility of residual or worsened symptoms, the risks of anesthesia, the risks of the spine surgery itself, and chances of recurrence in the future. If your surgeon has insisted that you must have an operation or has not discussed all of the points above with you, then you may benefit from a surgical second opinion.

Have you been told you need spine surgery? Have you already had spine surgery? Let us know about your experience. We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

About Scott D. Boden, MD:

Dr. Boden is the Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, an internationally renowned surgeon, lecturer, and teacher and the driving force behind the Emory University Orthopedics and Spine Hospital (EUOSH). Dr. Boden began practicing at Emory in 1992.