Minimally invasive stabilization vs. open spine fusion surgery

Is MIS a Fusion?It can be frightening to think about open spine fusion surgery — one of the most invasive spine procedures available. During this procedure, hardware is permanently affixed to the spine to provide stabilization to the affected area. But how is Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive stabilization different from a traditional open neck or back fusion?

While both procedures share the goal of stabilizing your spine, decompressing nerves and relieving symptoms, understanding the difference between the two procedures is crucial before making the decision to have an open spine surgery.

“Laser Spine Institute patients are typically up and moving on the same day of surgery, without the extensive recovery associated with a traditional open spine fusion,” said Dr. Jeffrey Langmaid, D.C., a Chiropractor and Consult Physician at Laser Spine Institute. “While our procedures involve hardware that is very close to a traditional fusion, our minimally invasive outpatient approach is what sets us apart.”

Unlike traditional open back fusions — which may require a 6- to 10-inch incision — our procedures are performed using a small incision with muscle-sparing techniques. While traditional open back surgeons enter the surgical area by disrupting or cutting through the muscles, our surgeons will spread the muscles, eliminating unnecessary muscle damage.

“By being as specific as possible, we are able to minimize incision size, muscle disruption, scar tissue and downtime compared to many traditional medical facilities,” said Dr. Langmaid. “We approach each case with a focus and diligence that is unmatched; we want our patients to Stand Tall and have the highest quality of life possible.”

Advantages of minimally invasive stabilization at Laser Spine Institute over open spine surgery also include:

  • Outpatient procedure eliminates hospital-associated costs
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Smaller incision

According to Dr. Langmaid, Laser Spine Institute’s coflex® devices and disc replacement procedures are also used to provide spinal stability but are not considered full-scale traditional fusions by any sense.

Before you undergo an open spine fusion, we encourage you to ask questions and get a better understanding of your doctor’s treatment plan. While one doctor may recommend an open neck or back fusion, another may recommend minimally invasive stabilization.

“Traditional open back surgery is the last option for spine surgery,” said Dr. Langmaid. “Patients are often concerned because they receive different recommendations from different care providers.”

“Rare events that require a significant 3-level fusion may be better served in a traditional surgery setting,” said Dr. Langmaid. “But the average person would be quite surprised with what we can do in an outpatient facility.”

If your doctor has recommended an open neck or back fusion to treat your spine condition, our Care Team may be able to help you. Contact Laser Spine Institute to get a review of your MRI and learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.

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