Today’s Minimally Invasive Spine Techniques

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Today’s Minimally Invasive Spine Techniques

By Dr. Justin Paul

If you suffer from persistent back pain with sciatica or neck pain shooting into the arm, you may be a candidate for a more permanent solution. Advancements in technology, technique and materials make surgery on the spine more effective and easier to recover from. More and more patients are able to leave the hospital quickly after surgery, and some patients are able to have the surgery performed at an outpatient surgery center. Decompressing a pinched nerve can often provide life-changing relief. Patients with an active lifestyle often become more mobile than they had been for years while suffering from nerve pain.

Many people still think of the procedure as the last step to treating spine problems. They fear post-operative complications and months of recovery time. However, there have been tremendous advancements in the last few years. “Newer techniques aimed at sparing the muscles of the back during the surgery reduce the trauma of surgery while preserving the efficacy of nerve decompression. This makes the surgery less invasive and decreases recovery time,” says specialist Dr. Justin Paul of the Spine Center at OrthoConnecticut. “In fact, some minimally invasive approaches, when medically appropriate, can have patients on their feet walking out of the surgery center a few hours after surgery.”

New Approaches to Discectomy and Laminectomy

An alternative to making a large incision and dissecting the muscles with a knife or burning them with cautery is the use of dilators to gently push the muscles away from the surgical site. This allows for less blood loss and lowers the infection rate. Even more apparent to the patient, the immediate postoperative pain is significantly less, allowing patients to reduce the use of narcotics.

New Approaches to Back Fusion Surgery

The lateral approach gently pushes muscles and surrounding tissue apart from the side, sparing the back-muscle tissue from trauma. Keeping the back muscles strong enables a patient to get up and walk much more quickly than if the back muscles are disrupted as part of the surgery. Recovery is better tolerated and there is a quicker return to normal function after the operation.

This approach is also ideal if you have had previous back surgery. Oftentimes, performing another surgery through the same area of the body is more painful the second time around. There is also often more risk for complications with traditional techniques. Ask your specialist if the lateral procedure for fusion is right for you.

New Implants Help Recreate Normal Spine Anatomy

Over time, the spine often collapses on itself, causing back pain and crushing the nerves. Many of the newer implants are designed to help restore the normal space between the bones of the spine. This increased space allows the nerves to heal properly and keeps the spine in proper alignment to avoid further issues in the future. “State-of-the-art materials and leading edge technology have made spine fusion a very strong option for so many people these days,” says Dr. Paul. “We are eager to inform patients about all the options so they can make the best decision for themselves and get back to their active lives.”

About OrthoConnecticut

OrthoConnecticut is the region’s premier, multi-specialty orthopedic and pain management practice, helping patients regain mobility, lead active lives and attain optimal well-being. Thirty-one fellowship-trained, board-certified physicians offer patient care at nine offices in Danbury, Darien, Litchfield, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Sharon, Southbury and Westport. The practice’s urgent care service, OrthoCare Express, is open seven days a week for emergencies and is available in Danbury, Darien, Norwalk and Westport. To make an appointment with any of the practice’s specialists, or to learn more about OrthoCare Express, please visit or call 1.833.ORTHOCT (1.833.678.4628).



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August 1, 2018

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