Is Laser Spine Surgery Bogus?

September 20, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Is Laser Spine Surgery Bogus?

Common Misconceptions Peddled by Laser Spine Surgeons in an Effort to Aquire Business.

In a 2009 article published by H. Gordon Deen, a Neurosurgeon with the prestigious Mayo Clinic, stated that “At Mayo Clinic we do not use or recommend laser spine surgery. Laser spine surgery has been around since the 1980s, but it has never been studied in a controlled clinical trial to determine its effectiveness. Most neurosurgeons don't use lasers for spine surgery because there are no clear benefits to laser surgery over better-established spine surgery techniques that have proven to be effective.” This seems quite bizarre. There are a number of Spine Surgeons and large practices encompassing Spine Surgeons like the Laser Spine Institute that have actively marketed surgical procedures for which there has never been a controlled clinical trial to determine their effectiveness. In contrast, the number of detractors to laser spine surgery is substantial and in the context of automobile accident cases, this surgery has served very little in my opinion other than to pad the pockets of greedy surgeons. A majority of Orthopedic Spine Surgeons and Neurosurgeons would agree that laser spine surgery is at best a procedure that could be useful for a very small segment of those suffering from chronic back or neck pain related to Discogenic (i.e., from the disc) Pathology. Many surgeons who perform laser spine surgery tend to use these procedures as a cookie-cutter solution to resolving all types of back and neck pathology and resulting symptomatology. It can be argued that many surgeons elect to pursue such surgeries for pecuniary gain as opposed to meritorious reasons.

Injuries Caused By Spinal Laser Surgery

Medical practices that promote Laser Spine surgery centers, or the very Surgeons who actively practice such procedures, will often state in their brochures or mailings that laser spine surgery is minimally invasive. This is often misleading as Laser Spinal surgery is generally a quite traumatic process requiring an incision (sizeable opening), tearing through muscle, and cutting the bone, ligaments, and joint fragments out. The removed bone, ligaments, and joint fragments are often healthy and normal, and removing such will oftentimes render permanent damage to the area resulting in permanent pathology and symptomatology. In turn, the patient will now require subsequent procedures and surgeries in the future to treat the issues caused or exacerbated by the laser spine surgery. In other words, the majority of laser spine surgeries serve no legitimate medical purpose and are often used to treat pathology that is minimal or non-existent and as a result of such dubious medical procedures, the patient develops permanent pathology. The procedures are also marketed to individuals who suffer from severe symptoms caused by significant discogenic pathology for which LaserSpine surgery offers no legitimate solution.

Unnecessary Risk for Injuries Caused by Laser Spine Surgery

Laser Spine procedures like the percutaneous endoscopic discectomy have served as cash cows for greedy Orthopedic Spine surgeons and Neurosurgeons. Legitimate science has proven that attempting to treat or decompress a disc with an annular tear that is symptomatic in nature by placing a new hole in an already damaged disc is illogical. By placing even a tiny hole in the periphery of the disc you are now exposing this disc to significant corruptibility. The hole will likely progress to the extent that the patient inevitably suffers from degenerative disc disease. The hole will likely spread and can stretch all the way into the nucleus resulting in another annular tear. In turn, the laser spine surgery itself may place the patient on a one-way path to inevitably requiring a fusion to treat the damaged disc. A major risk that is associated with laser spine surgery is infection. Laser spine surgery is commonly performed and marketed as an outpatient procedure which means after the surgery is performed, the patient goes home to rest and heal. For this reason, the risk of infection is significantly increased.

Lawsuits Against Laser Spine Insitute in Tampa, Florida

In recent months a large facility in Tampa; Laser Spine Institute, came under fire for its marketing of a number of very similar laser spine procedures. In an article published by Bloomberg, author David Armstrong illustrates that Laser Spine Institute and its competitors, market laser spine surgery that lacks any independent research that documents the success or outcomes of such procedures. Laser Spine Institute has earned a less than stellar reputation as its rate of malpractice claims per 1000 surgeries is several times the rate of all U.S. outpatient surgery centers. That is simply astonishing. Medical practices are performing surgeries with no independent research documenting their "success" while the malpractice rate is several times the national average. It makes one wonder why anyone in his or her right mind would undergo surgical intervention at Laser Spine Institute. Even more revealing is the fact that Laser Spine Institute often charges in excess of $30,000.00 for a procedure. The author points out that this is at least twice as much as Aetna (the third largest health insurance carrier in the U.S.) will pay for a laser-less procedure. Further, the author provides evidence that many of the Surgeons at Laser Spine Institute are investors in the very entity. Individual Surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform as many as 5000 surgeries a year. It begs the question of whether these surgeries are performed for legitimate purposes or for the cash incentives they create as shareholders of the very corporation. Many auto insurance carriers simply red flag claims in which the plaintiff's attorney has submitted a demand for the at-fault party's bodily injury coverage when the claimant has undergone laser spine surgery. The insurance carrier will focus on the exceedingly high bills and argue that many interventional pain management physicians (such as Physiatrists and Anesthesiologists) offer the very same procedures and bill between $5,000 to $8,000 for a procedure that Surgeon are billing in excess of $30,000 for. Defense lawyers center their arguments on the billing charges for such procedures at trial. The argument is not only that the surgery is dubious in nature, but that the purpose of performing such a procedure is based on financial gain as opposed to the patient's well-being. A good number of cases based on the percutaneous endoscopic discectomies in recent years have resulted in defense verdicts throughout Florida and especially here in Pinellas County.

Contact Dolman Law Group if You Have Suffered as a Result of Laser Spine Surgery?

As a Clearwater personal injury attorney, I have seen a large growth in the number of surgeons in Pinellas, Manatee, Pasco, and Hillsborough County who offer laser spine surgery and market attorneys and other physicians for clients/patients who have suffered back or neck injuries in the past five years. For more information on the Bloomberg article or on how automobile insurance carriers perceive laser spine surgery, please contact me at: [email protected]. – Matthew A. Dolman, Esq. Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a Clearwater personal injury attorney who limits his practice to first and third-party insurance claims stemming from automobile accidents, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, motorcycle accidents, catastrophic injuries, and insurance carrier bad faith. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is a Clearwater and Bradenton based personal injury and civil trial law firm that actively litigates first and third-party insurance claims in Pinellas, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Sarasota Counties. If you or a loved one has undergone laser spine surgery and you believe that it was ineffective in alleviating your pain or made your pain worse, contacting a local back and neck pain attorney immediately is in your best interest. For more information on Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and how we can assist you, please contact our firm by phone at 727-451-6900 or via our contact form online.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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