What is the value and status of laser in minimally invasive spine surgery?
There are many Spine Practices emphasizing their use of laser in spinal surgery, but my physician and many spine surgeons dismiss it as a gimmick. What is the value and status of laser in minimally invasive spine surgery?
It is evident that laser is a term often used to attract patients in advertising spine practices, and many practices do just that, especially over the internet. The laser is just a very effective and precise tool that has been utilized in many types of surgery, from Dermatology to Spine. In spine, it is a very valuable tool when used appropriately and under direct visualization during endoscopic discectomy and foraminal stenosis decompression, such as in the YESS technique.
The use of laser “blindly” under fluoroscopic control only, or its use with fiber-optic visualization is much more limited, similar to blind mechanical decompression of a disc nucleus. This blind technique is what many traditional surgeons feel is inferior to performing a traditional discectomy with a microscope, because the surgeon is able to see the pathologic condition and anatomy clearly with the microscope.
The new endoscopes are just as effective as the microscope, but less invasive. Also, not all laser discectomies are alike! The spine surgeon must know how to appropriately use his surgical tools to address your pain generator. It would be prudent for you to ask the surgeon just how he utilizes his choice of laser for your procedure.