People who are living with degenerative disc disease in their lower backs may be considering surgery as an option to help them to ease their pain and to improve function. If you have already undergone months of conservative treatment, but your pain is still uncontrolled, you may decide to opt for spine surgery in your lumbar region. Fortunately, surgery to treat lumbar degenerative disc disease does not have to be a major surgery involving months of time spent in recovery. Minimally invasive back surgery may be an alternative for some conditions, including lumbar degenerative disc disease, which can involve much shorter recovery periods while offering symptom relief.
How minimally invasive back surgery options work
Our doctors may perform a minimally invasive surgical procedure on your lumbar spine to correct for spinal stenosis or to fuse your degenerated discs together. Using an endoscope with a needle inserted through a small incision, your doctors may then perform a laser spine surgery to complete a spinal decompression procedure. During this procedure, a portion of your bulging disc may be removed with precision to help relieve the pain and pressure it is causing. This surgery may also be used to remove small fragments or bone that are compressing your nerves or your spine.
Your doctor may recommend a different procedure called a lumbar facet fusion procedure. In this endoscopically assisted procedure, the doctors will make several small incisions and use fluoroscopic guidance to insert a facet screw system so that your spine can be stabilized. After your surgeon removes a small piece of bone from a disc, he or she will then place a spacer cage in its place, filling it with a bone graft so that your facets will fuse.
What to expect with your minimally invasive surgery
A majority of patients who receive a minimally invasive back surgery are able to go in the surgery center, leaving the same day. Prior to your surgery, our doctors will first use CT scans, MRIs and x-rays to pinpoint the problematic discs in your back so that we can recommend the most appropriate surgical option. Because the incisions are small and the surgeries are performed endoscopically, your recovery time should be significantly shortened.
Findings of the effectiveness of minimally invasive surgery for your back
A broad body of research comparing minimally invasive surgical procedures with open surgical procedures for the back has demonstrated that the minimally invasive procedures can offer results that are better than open procedures. They also may offer the following benefits:
- Lowered risks of infection
- Less blood loss
- Reduced pain
- Faster ability to walk and to return to work
According to a study that was published in the SAS Journal in 2011, a minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery was an average of $4,000 less than a similar open surgical procedure. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques similarly founded lower average costs for one- and two-level lumbar fusions were significantly lower for minimally invasive procedures. Because they can be performed on an outpatient basis, patients may save substantial amounts of money from not needing to stay for multiple days in the hospital.
Minimally invasive spine surgeries for the problems associated with lumbar degenerative disc disease may offer better outcomes, reduced recovery times and lower costs. To learn more about laser spine surgery and endoscopic surgical procedures, contact us today to schedule your consultation with the doctors at the Spine Institute Northwest.