Dr. Mark McLaughlin wrote a scathing article in 2009 regarding “The Laser Myth in Spine Surgery.” Dr. McLaughlin begins his article by discussing that laser spine surgery has almost no usefulness in spine surgery.
While lasers are generally viewed as the most precise and powerful tools available for cutting, this isn’t quite true for spine surgery. McLaughlin acknowledges that he’s not an old curmudgeon who is unwilling to work with new technology. Rather, after giving this tool serious consideration, McLaughlin fails to find the value of lasers for spine surgery. Why?
Proponents claim that a laser scalpel is better than other options. They claim that lasers are minimally invasive and will therefore cause decrease in blood loss and scarring. Proponents further claim that there is greater efficiency, effectiveness and gentleness.
The truth of the matter, as McLaughlin claims, is that these surgeries can be performed far more effectively and efficiently with a scalpel. 95% of minimally invasive surgeries are done without lasers. In essence minimally evasive surgery is merely a less traumatic method of creating a pathway to allow a surgeon to get the job done with less disruption of tissue.
While a laser may be used for the minimally invasive surgery technique, there are three major difference between the laser and scalpel.
First, that minimally invasive spine surgeons go through these extremely small openings, using microscopes and endoscopes to looking around to find what’s causing a problem. The straight beams of a laser are ill suited for removing lesions that are around corners. A traditional scalpel is much safer in navigating these angles.
Second, lasers obliterates tissue and this process actually creates heat. This heat can be transmitted to adjacent tissues, such as nerves, and can cause damage. A scalpel, by comparison, has no such ill effect.
Finally, one must consider the depth of penetration of the tool used. Lasers have a variable length, focus, and precision. Sudden increases in the penetrative depth of the laser scalpel can create issues where the one can inadvertently cut too deep. However, a traditional scalpel has a constant edge.
Considering these three factors, McLaughlin concludes that there are no significant benefits that a traditional scalpel cannot reproduce. In fact, laser scalpels present additional problems that a traditional scalpel does not. The lay public never learns of these issues. That’s why it’s so important to seek a second opinion when a surgeon recommends laser surgery. The lay public also sees the huge price tag of laser surgery and mistakenly believes that this price tag indicates a higher quality service.
In the past, we’ve come across an even more menacing tactic. There are cases where an attorney directs their client to seek out this dangerous laser disc surgery in order to increase the value of a client’s case and in turn increase the fee that they can be paid. Clients of attorneys should always be wary of any treatment suggested by their attorney. It is not an attorney’s job to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Rather, your attorney is merely your advocate to take care of the details of your case and ensure you are compensated for the proper medical care.
For more information concerning the dangers and issues surrounding laser spine surgery, call your spine injury lawyers at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation at: (727)451-6900