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Dispelling Some Myths About Lasers in Spine Surgery

The following post is a guest blog by Dr. Stefano Sinicropi.

The term “laser” has always conjured images of advanced technology the future. Laser spine surgery is commonly touted as the way of the future when it comes to spinal procedures. But that’s not completely true. In this article, I hope to define what exactly “laser spine surgery” means, and talk about the effectiveness of laser spine surgery as compared to minimally invasive spine surgery – hopefully dispelling a few misconceptions in the process.

What is Laser Spine Surgery?

Laser Spine Surgery is any surgical procedure done with the assistance of laser technology. Typically lasers are used in spinal decompression surgeries, and spinal stenosis corrections. These laser procedures have benefits and drawbacks.

It is true that laser spine surgery allows the surgeon to work through a smaller incision (roughly 7mm compared to 25mm in minimally invasive procedures), but that also reduces a surgeon’s visibility and ability to adapt to potential problems throughout the course of a procedure.

Laser Spine Surgery vs. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

The fact is that “lasers” and “laser spine surgery” is more of a marketing gimmick than the actual technological advancements that the name suggests. Many surgeons and practices market “laser spine surgery” aggressively, and it’s not difficult to understand why. “Laser spine surgery” is a catchy term that sounds attractive to most patients seeking help with their back pain. But in reality laser spine surgery is not the futuristic cure-all solution to spinal conditions.

In nearly every case, minimally invasive spine surgery is a better alternative than laser spine surgery. Minimally invasive techniques have proven to be safer for patients, and allow the surgeon more options to effectively treat their patients.

The best recommendation I can give is to do your research and find a spine surgeon you trust and has experience with the procedure being performed.

About the Author:

Dr. Stefano Sinicropi is a board-certified spine surgeon practicing in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota. Dr. Sinicropi is trained in both orthopedic and neurosurgical techniques. He attended the prestigious Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Medical School and completed a combined Research/Clinical Residency at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital. He then completed his fellowship at the Kenton D. Leatherman Spinal Fellowship at the University of Louisville. He joined the Midwest Spine Institute in 2006. For more information about Dr. Sinicropi, visit his website, sinicropispine.com.