Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery has used advances in technology to treat spinal problems through smaller and smaller incisions. Today, minimally invasive spine surgery can be accomplished through a one-inch incision.
Dr. Watson takes this approach even a step further, by using laser energy to turn off the pain nociceptors in herniated and bulging discs. He does this through a series of needles with incisions that are only 3-4 mm.
How can I Benefit From This Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Because Dr. Watson is able to address chronic pain by delivering laser energy directly into the disc causing the problem, it eliminates the need for surgery and corresponding recovery. These treatments are able to relieve much of the pain the patient is experiencing. In some cases, it is also able to decrease the pressure on the nerves caused by the bulging or herniated discs.
What is a Spinal Headache?
A spinal headache is a type of headache that follows a procedure where a needle is placed into the fluid-filled space that surrounds your spinal cord. These are typical scenarios of a spinal tap or epidural block.
What causes a spinal headache?
During a spinal tap the needle used punctures the fluid-filled sac that surrounds your spinal cord. This allows some of the spinal fluid to leak out, which changes the fluid pressure around your brain and spinal cord. If enough of this fluid leaks out you can develop a spinal headache.
Common Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeries
Dr. Watson and Innovative Spine Care focus on the pain patients feel as a result of the compression of nerves along the spinal cord. This is often caused by a bulging or herniated spinal disc. A bulging disc has not torn the outer annulus of the disc, but the inner gel is pushing on the annulus, distorting its shape outward. When a disc has herniated, the inner gel actually pushes out through a tear in the annulus. With both scenarios, the disc material puts pressure on nearby nerves. Pain can also originate in the disc itself.
Cervical Discectomy and Neural Decompression
A cervical discectomy and neural decompression targets pain originating in the cervical spine. These are the seven vertebrae numbered C1-C7. This procedure takes from 45-90 minutes depending on the number of discs causing pain for the patient. The patient is face-up on the operating table and is properly sedated and then anesthetized. Dr. Watson then inserts a series of needles through the right side of the front of the neck down into the discs causing the pain. He uses fluoroscopy to guide the needle placement. He is also able to see the disc anatomy at this point.
Next a thulium laser sends energy through the needles down into the symptomatic discs. The laser energy enters the annulus and can turn off some of the pain nerves and char the annulus (while sealing blood vessels at the same time). This can cause the budge or herniation in the disc to shrink. Antibiotics are then injected into the treated discs and the needles are removed.
Thoracic Discectomy and Neural Decompression
The thoracic spine is the longest region of the spine. It links the cervical spine with the lumbar spine and attaches to the rib cage. The thoracic spine has 12 vertebrae numbers T1-T12. Although not as common as neck or lower back pain, herniation in these discs will cause the patient pain in the back from the top of the shoulders down to the upper abdomen area.
A thoracic discectomy and neural decompression takes 60-150 minutes, depending on the number of discs involved. The patient is placed face down on the operating table and is anesthetized. Using fluoroscopy for guidance, Dr. Watson then inserts a series of needles through the back and into the problematic disc or discs.
A thulium laser then sends energy down through the needles into the discs. The laser energy can turn off pain nerves, close blood vessels delivering compounds causing inflammation in the annulus, and char the annulus. This reduces pain and can shrink the bulging or herniated disc. The final step is to inject antibiotics into the discs that have been treated.
Lumbar Discectomy and Neural Decompression
The lumbar spine is the area where most back pain originates. It encompasses the lower spine down to where it connects into the hip. The vertebrae are numbers L1-L5. Pain caused by disc herniation in the lumbar spine shows in lower back pain, hip pain, sciatica in the legs, and weakness or tingling in the legs.
A lumbar discectomy and neural decompression takes from 75-150 minutes depending on the patient’s situation. The patient is placed face down on the operating table and is anesthetized. As with the other discectomy procedures, Dr. Watson inserts needles through the skin above the problematic discs directly into the discs. Laser energy is then sent through the needles into the discs. This energy is able to turn off certain pain nociceptors in the annulus of the disc. It also chars the annulus and may shrink the bulging portion of the disc. Lumbar facet joints can be treated at the end of this portion of the procedure. The procedure ends with the injection of antibiotics into the treated discs.
What are the risks of these procedures?
Because these procedures do not involve incisions or the removal of bone, they have very low risk. There is the possibility of damage to the spinal discs beyond the pain receptors, but this is rare. Dr. Watson has been performing these laser spine procedures for 12 years and has found them very effective for treating chronic neck and back pain in his patients. He will discuss any possible risks during your consultation.
Dr. Stephen Watson Testimonial
How do I prepare for these procedures?
To prepare for this procedure, you’ll need to stop taking any herbal supplements, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs the day before your session. Other than that, there are no restrictions.
What Is Recovery Like After These Minimally Invasive Spine Procedures?
After your discectomy, the sedation is reversed and you are awakened and moved to a recovery room. You’ll be there for about one hour so that we can monitor you. This is a minimally invasive procedure. You will have some tenderness at the needle insertion locations. Most patients can return to work in as little as one week. Overall final results should be realized within six weeks. Dr. Watson will discuss your recovery with you during your consultation
What Type Of Results Should I Expect?
For patients whose chronic neck and back pain hasn’t responded to nonsurgical treatments, these minimally invasive laser procedures can relieve the pain caused by their herniated discs, and they can do so without invasive surgery. The laser energy is able to directly impact the pain that originates in the disc and the areas where the discs are pressing on nearby nerve roots. This reduces or removes the pressure on the nerve roots and relieves the corresponding pain. While every patient’s results can vary, Dr. Watson has been helping patients with these laser treatments for 12 years and can help you.