What’s the Difference Between Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and Laser Surgery?
There is a misconception by the public that Laser Surgery is the latest technology available for spine surgery. In reality, lasers have been used in the medical field for over 40 years. However, a few organizations are currently marketing “Laser Surgery” as cutting edge (no pun intended), more efficient with quicker recovery times. Lasers actually play a minor role in the procedure.
As defined by Oxford Dictionary, “lasers are used in drilling and cutting . . .” A laser is a vertical beam of light unable of cutting around objects or corners. They use heat to destroy soft tissue. The heat used can damage structures surrounding the area and can lead to damage of healthy tissue and possibly to the spinal nerves the physician is trying to benefit. They are used for cutting away soft tissue and are less accurate than a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon.
“There are no clinical trials to prove laser surgery in spine patients is more effective, reduces pain and leads to faster recovery.”
The best option for spine patients is minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). These procedures can be performed with more precision than laser surgery. As with laser surgery, MISS is done through a small incision. Muscles are not cut; instead, the muscle fibers are moved slowly from the surgical area with specialized equipment. A surgical microscope is then inserted allowing the surgeon to visualize the damaged disc, bone spurs or other abnormalities. By using a scalpel, the surgeon has more control over what he is cutting than he would with a laser. Once the procedure is completed, and the equipment removed the muscle fibers can move back into position without damage.
It is important to note that laser spine surgery is not endorsed by many spine experts. There are no clinical trials to prove laser surgery in spine patients is more effective, reduces pain and leads to faster recovery.
Furthermore, there are no commercial insurance carriers that currently approve laser surgery for spinal procedures. Their policies state “laser surgery is unproven and not medically necessary”. Therefore patients pay out of pocket for these procedures.
For more information on specific spine procedures click here.