To the millions of Americans that suffer from neck and back pain, Laser Spine Surgery may seem too good to be true. Laser Spine Surgery is big business for the innumerable medical providers that perform the procedure. Marketing for the surgery boasts that it is a non-invasive, effective, and safe marvel of modern medicine. It is marketed in such a way as to suggest that traditional spine surgery, by comparison, is an antiquated and barbaric practice only employed by elder and unsophisticated surgeons. However, Laser Spine Surgery is not what it is marketed as. It is not, as they would want you to believe an elegant procedure for a more civilized age of medicine. Those marketing laser spine surgery, often overuse the term “minimally invasive.” Laser spine surgery is actually far more dangerous than traditional spine surgery and the claim of being minimally invasive is viewed as a vast exaggeration by many.
There exists no long-term clinical study in the vast world of science and medicine that even remotely suggests the procedure is either safe or effective. It’s marketing and such claims are at best ignorantly misleading, and at worst a lie designed and perpetuated from sheer avarice.
Laser spinal surgery could be any manner of spinal surgery: a laminectomy, a discectomy, or even a spinal fusion. Laser spine surgery is drastically different from traditional spine surgery, but that difference is nonetheless isolated to the instrument used to perform the surgery. The goal and manner of the surgeries are otherwise the same. A laser, which is a focused beam of light, is used to make an incision so that the surgery can have access to the spine. Laser incisions are much smaller than the incisions made by scalpels in traditional spine surgery. Also, in laser spine surgery, the laser is used to cut away or reshape disks, thereby alleviating pressure and decreasing the resulting pain.
The claims benefits of the laser surgery, over traditional surgery, include: it is less invasive, the smaller incision decreases healing time, and it can be done as an outpatient procedure.
However, those peddling laser spine surgery conveniently forget to include this is a clinically unproven procedure. Furthermore, nearly every major health institute pertaining to spinal issues recommends against the use of laser spine surgery.
The Mayo Clinic and the National Institute for Health, both recommend against the use of laser spine surgery. They point out that no definitive clinical study can show that laser spine surgery is either effective or safe. In fact, laser spine surgery can be very dangerous.
One of the major risks associated with laser spine surgery is infection. Laser spine surgery is commonly performed, and in fact marketed, as an outpatient procedure. An outpatient procedure is one where a surgery is performed and afterwards, the patient simply goes home to rest and heal. Due to the fact that laser spine surgery is an outpatient procedure, patients go immediately home, and the risk of infection is significantly increased.
Another major risk associated with laser spine surgery is provider error. A laser is a focused beam of light. The machine used to produce the laser, must be meticulously calibrated and carefully focused because said laser used in spinal surgery can be extremely dangerous. According to Dr. Mark McLaughlin, “the truth is minimally invasive spine surgery, or MISS, can be performed as effectively, and probably more effectively, without a laser. In fact, more than 95% of minimally invasive spine procedures in the U.S. are done without laser. MISS is based upon the surgical approach to the spine, not what kind of scalpel a surgeon uses. Minimally invasive Spine Surgeons go through a very small opening often with a microscope or endoscope and have to look around corners to find what’s causing the problem. A laser is a straight beam of light that is ill suited for removing lesions hiding around corners. The ability to navigate angles safely is an important feature for the traditional scalpel.”
Secondly, lasers obliterate tissue and cut but they do so with heat and sometimes gas production (due to the boiling of water molecules). This heat can be transmitted to adjacent anatomical structures and can damage nerves. In contrast, a scalpel is basically a razor sharp knife that also separates tissue by cutting but does not generate heat. In a seasoned surgeon’s hand, the precision of a scalpel equals any laser incision.”
Beyond its risks, Laser Spine Surgery more often than not fails. A lawsuit was filed recently in St. Petersburg against a medical provider that performed the procedure, as the Laser Spine Surgery simply did not work. As a result, that patient had to undergo more surgeries. More surgeries means more time away from work and prolonged pain.
The medical and scientific community is up in arms against this procedure. If you are suffering from back pain, you need to consult a doctor and follow their orders. However, think very long and carefully before you consent to undergoing laser assisted spine surgery. There is no actual indication that it is safe or effective. Frankly, the high risk is not worth questionable reward. Ask your doctor about traditional spine surgery, if indeed it turns out that you need surgery.
Finally, do not undergo spine surgery with a physician that is not an actual Spine Surgeon. In recent years we have seen a steady growth in Anesthesiologists and Physiatrists performing what would be considered invasive spine surgery.
If you or a loved one has undergone laser spine surgery and you believe that it was ineffective in alleviating your pain or if you believe it has made you pain worse, you need to contact a local Clearwater back and neck pain attorney immediately. We always represent the injured. All initial consultations are free and confidential. Please call us today at: 727-451-6900.
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