While many believe that laser spine surgery is one of the better options compared to traditional spine surgery, there are numerous myths surrounding this procedure that people need to understand.

Lasers & Spine Surgery

Lasers have always been associated with precision and cutting edge technology, hence the belief that this technology is ideal for use in certain medical procedures. Lasers have been helpful in many cases, such as surgeries that entail removing fat from problem areas, but it doesn’t have a role in a majority of spinal surgeries.

There are many claims made regarding laser spine or disc surgery. The main one is that the laser scalpel is more advanced and less evasive simultaneously, compared to other traditional surgical methods. However, this isn’t necessarily the case, as minimally invasive spinal surgery can be even more effective than laser spine surgery in most cases.

Minimally invasive spinal surgery, or MISS, is a technique that’s used to minimize tissue damage through the use of smaller incisions, but it’s not the main procedure used for spinal surgery, though it’s a better means to access the spine.

Why Traditional Spinal Surgery is Better

The main difference between scalpel and laser surgery comes down to three aspects of the process, including heat and gas, depth of penetration, and the angles.

At the start of the procedure or treatment, minimally invasive spine surgeons will make a small opening and look through it using an endoscope or microscope, looking around corners to find what’s causing the issue. A scalpel is then able to more precisely navigate angles.

Also, lasers can damage tissue using heat and occasionally gas production, which then transmits to nearby organs and nerves. Scalpels, on the other hand, only separate tissue through cutting without the dangers of heat production. A scalpel in the hands of an experienced surgeon is infinitely safer than a laser.

When lasers cut through the tissue, the penetration depth can also vary depending on how long the beam sits on a cut. As a result, underlying tissue and anatomical structures may be damaged, whereas a scalpel eliminates this concern.

Determining if Laser Spine Surgery is Ideal

These three factors described above make traditional surgery a better choice in most cases, but a doctor may determine that a laser is right for some surgeries. It’s important to keep in mind that despite laser surgery having been around for two decades, it’s not generally accepted by mainstream medical professionals, with traditional surgery still the preferred method.

Questions you should ask yourself if you’re considering laser spine surgery regarding the institute or practice that prefers laser spine surgery, such as:

  • Do they teach courses on the laser at national spine meetings?
  • Is their intention to disseminate information to the medical community for the betterment of society?
  • Is the procedure something that respected individuals in the medical community advocate?

If the answer is “no” to any of these, you may want to look elsewhere.

Keeping all of this in mind, you can make a better decision about laser spine surgery in the future, and may find that sticking with traditional surgery is better.