For the millions of Americans suffering from chronic back or neck pain, a technique known as minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery is becoming an increasingly popular option to achieve lasting relief without the long recovery associated with traditional “open” surgery.
Back pain is so prevalent that national statistics indicate it affects eight of 10 people at some point in their lives. It has become clear that for many of these patients, minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery offers them the best chance at resuming their previously active lifestyle.
The technique is more effective than ever, as the complexity and procedures available continue to rapidly evolve. As minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery continues to flourish, patients want to know more about the technique and how it might help them. Dr. Kaixuan Liu, an expert in minimally invasive endoscopic spine procedures, spoke with NJ Advance Media about this cutting-edge approach.
Q: What’s involved with minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery?
A: Endoscopic or “keyhole” surgery such as this relies on a thin, telescope-like instrument known as an endoscope. It’s inserted through tiny incisions in the patient’s body and attached to a small video camera that projects an internal view of the patient onto TV screens in the operating room. The surgeon passes small surgical instruments through the incisions — usually no more than a half-inch long — and closes them later with sutures. The length of the operation depends on the spinal condition being corrected.
Q: What are the benefits of the technique?
A: There are many advantages over open surgery. A few small scars are needed for minimally invasive surgery rather than one long scar, which means less blood loss during surgery and less pain afterward. Unlike other techniques used, physicians at Atlantic Spine Center perform true minimally invasive spine surgery, going between muscles with no need for cutting. Additionally, there’s a reduced risk of infection and a shorter hospital stay — typically a few days instead of a week, which means a quicker return to prior activities.
Q: Is the procedure safe? What are the risks?
A: Every surgery carries risks, however, the endoscopic approach drops the risk of infection and gets patients back on their feet more quickly, lowering the risk of dangerous postoperative blood clots in the legs known as deep-vein thrombosis.
Q: When should an individual consider the procedure?
A: A doctor can tell whether minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery is an option to treat what’s causing an individual’s neck or back pain. As a rule, surgery should always be considered a last resort, but if an individual has tried various non-surgical treatments over a six- to 12-month period that haven’t helped, then surgery can be a reasonable option to address certain problems.
Q: Is physical therapy needed after the procedure?
A: In many cases, physical therapy is considered an important part of a patient’s swift and complete recovery and begins two to six weeks after surgery.
Q: How long is the recovery period?
A: The most pressing question most patients have is how fast they can get back to work or sports after undergoing minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery. This technique gives them the best chance of doing exactly what they want to do — quickly and safely. There are many compelling reasons more of our patients are benefiting from this cutting-edge technique.
Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, is a surgeon who is fellowship-trained in minimally invasive spine surgery and has been on the leading edge of the minimally and endoscopic spine surgery world for many years.
He also serves as an international surgeon for spinal foundations across the globe as an adviser, consultant, and assistant for minimally invasive spine procedures. His facility, Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader in the new minimally invasive approach and has welcomed patients from all over the world.
Learn more at atlanticspinecenter.com.
This post was originally published here: Top Questions About Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Spine Surgery
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