What is minimally invasive spine surgery and am I a good candidate?
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems facing people in the U.S., and it can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. “It can take a patient with an active lifestyle and basically make them couch-bound where they can’t do anything,” says Dr. Kevin McCarthy, a spine surgeon at the Spine Center of Baton Rouge.
McCarthy treats patients with neck pain, back pain and nerve pain, and he specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery. He has been in practice at the Spine Center of Baton Rouge for 13 years.
Traditionally, spine surgeries have been performed using large open incisions and they can result in significant blood loss, long hospital stays and significant post-operative pain and disability. However, the trend has been moving toward more minimally invasive surgery. This is surgery that’s done with the same goals as open surgery, but through smaller incisions. As a result, the soft tissue envelope surrounding the spine is not as disrupted and patients can experience less post-operative pain, less blood loss and shorter hospital stays.
“My goal and my motivation in my practice is to find procedures or treatments in the least destructive way,” McCarthy says. “We can get patients back to work quicker,” McCarthy says. “They require a far less stay in the hospital, they require less pain medicine, often less blood loss. They return to function faster with less pain.”
McCarthy says he and fellow physicians at the Spine Center of Baton Rouge are always striving to stay on the cutting edge of minimally invasive spine procedures. Minimally invasive spine surgery is typically completed through an incision of less than an inch in length in the low back.
The approach has been further developed recently to an even more minimally invasive technique using endoscopic surgery. Endoscopic procedures are done using a scope, or camera, like what doctors use in a shoulder scope or knee scope. Using a scope that provides direct video images, they can remove disc herniations, remove bone spurs and treat other ailments of the back and spine.
In the instance of nerve pain, the endoscopic procedure allows the physician to “put a camera into the spine through a tiny poke incision and look and actually find the targeted nerve.” It’s a much more precise procedure than the traditional method where doctors use their knowledge of anatomy – not a visual image – to find the area where the nerve is thought to be.
“Using a radio frequency probe or a laser, we can burn that nerve under direct visualization and know that we’re definitely getting the targeted nerve that we’re going after,” McCarthy says. “Through that process, we’re able to take away the pain and give patients who have had back pain for years relief.”
Laser spine surgery and these endoscopic procedures are performed by the Spine Center of Baton Rouge, and it is one of the only facilities in the region that has the technology to perform these surgeries.
If you are interested in learning more about minimally invasive spine procedures, please schedule an appointment or visit our connect with one of our spine care specialists to begin your treatment plan today.