Laser Spine Surgery: Why Our Spine Surgeons Say No

There’s something about the term “laser surgery” that automatically suggests “cutting edge,” the apex of technology. We automatically assume that the use of lasers suggests unmatched surgical precision. However, despite Polaris’ commitment to employing the latest medical advancements to treat our patients, when it comes to laser spine surgery, our spine surgeons opt against it. We choose instead to perform minimally invasive spine surgery using a scalpel. Here are a few key reasons why.

There’s a lack of proven research regarding laser spine surgery

Laser surgery is often thought to be the most minimally invasive option, targeting the precise point of incision and reducing blood loss. However, in the context of spine surgery, the research around the use of lasers is far less conclusive. There’s little evidence to suggest that laser spine surgery is more precise, less invasive, or less risky than conventional scalpel surgeries. In fact, if a laser isn’t properly used, it can do more harm than good. Until the body of research shows a clearly reduced amount of risk, we will continue to choose the surgical approach that has been proven both reliable and low-risk.

Lasers do not fully replace scalpels

A little-known fact about laser surgery is that it doesn’t mean there will be no incision, nor that a scalpel won’t be needed. A scalpel must make the initial incision before the laser can be used to remove the soft tissue, and other surgical instruments must still be used to cut where lasers cannot. In reality, spine surgeons who use lasers still only utilize them for a small percentage of the total procedure.

“Many times, lasers are not even used in these procedures,” Dr. Christopher Tomaras, MD explains. “Lasers are used as a marketing tool, but very few neurosurgeons regard laser spine surgery as a viable alternative to conventional spine surgery techniques.”

Lasers aren’t as precise as you think

Lasers can be great for small, straight incisions in certain types of surgery, but since a laser is a concentrated straight light beam, it is unable to bend around corners. Most spinal procedures require not only precision, but flexibility to avoid causing damage to nerves and other necessary tissues. Our surgeons are in much greater control with a scalpel than they are with a laser beam.

Dr. Max Steuer, MD, agrees. “Spine surgery isn’t Star Wars. It is precise and nuanced, not flashy. If lasers were helpful, we would be using them.”

If a surgeon has recommended laser spine surgery to you, we suggest you seek a second opinion. Minimally invasive spine surgery has proven to be more effective and reliable than laser surgery, especially when performed by someone with proven experience. To learn more, call Polaris Spine and Neurosurgery Center today at 404-256-2633.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can My Spinal Fractures Heal on Their Own with Rest?

If you have a spinal fracture, treatment depends on the type and severity of the break, as well as whether other structures are involved. Can fractures heal on their own with just rest? Keep reading to learn the answer.

5 Risk Factors for a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc may produce no symptoms or pain and weakness so severe they’re disabling. Knowing your risk factors may help you prevent a disc from herniating in the first place.

Radiculopathy Types and What to Expect

Radiculopathy is pain that travels down nerve paths into the extremities. Keep reading to learn about the different types, what you can expect, and how you can find relief.

Spinal Stenosis: 3 Effective Treatments

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause radiating pain by compressing spinal nerve roots. Keep reading to learn about three effective treatments to relieve your distress.

Can Aging Cause Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition where the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed, causing pain, weakness, and numbness along its path. Can it be caused by aging? Read on to find out.

Can I Tell if I Have a Brain Tumor?

You’re not a doctor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the warning signs of a brain tumor. Early detection can lead to more effective treatment. Get all the facts here.