Minimally invasive spine surgery using real-time 3-D CT imaging allows patients to recover more quickly

(Medical Xpress)—With demand for unresolved back pain relief growing as the U.S. population ages, Rush University Medical Center is doing more minimally invasive spine surgery procedures that allow patients to return to normal, day-to-day activities faster than if they undergo conventional surgery.

Demand for this type of surgery is rising. In 2012, 534 patients have undergone minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery through Rush's Spine and Back Program, nearly a 19 percent increase over the previous year.

Unlike traditional open spinal surgery, minimally invasive lumbar spinal surgery is performed by and using small incisions that don't produce as much damage to healthy tissue. Less blood is lost, patients have faster recovery times and with fewer complications. The procedures can range from repairing herniated (bulging) disks to reconstructing bones in the spine that have become misaligned due to .

The surgeons are aided by advanced, real-time 3-D displayed on large flat-screen monitors to guide them during surgery. These large, specially designed operating rooms are at the core of the interventional platform, which is located on three consecutive floors in Rush's new hospital building opened 11 months ago.

"We're performing more of the spinal reconstructive techniques, and we're using minimally invasive techniques more in removing spinal tumors," said Dr. John O'Toole, associate professor of at Rush. O'Toole is one of three neurosurgesons who perform these procedures.

Nonsurgical treatment options are also offered for back pain, including physical therapy and epidural (spinal) injections of therapeutic steroids, which are administered by an in a pain clinic. Approximately 800 spine patients currently are receiving nonoperative care at Rush.

"We've been able to better integrate image-guided navigation into these surgeries," O'Toole said. "It's improved our accuracy, reduces our radiation exposures and enhances the performance of these minimally invasive procedures to the point where we can see inside the body as much as we do in an open body surgery."

"Our approach ensures that all nonsurgical means of addressing the pain will be exhausted before surgery is considered," said Dr. Howard An, orthopedic surgeon and professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush. "Surgical, nonsurgical and noninvasive therapies are available to treat a full range of conditions, including disc degeneration, osteoporosis, spinal cord injuries, scoliosis and other spine deformities. That approach allows us to maximize the outcome of while reducing hospital stay with faster postoperative recovery."

O'Toole expects further technological advances to allow him and his colleagues to expand the scope of treatments they can perform using minimally .

"Each passing year brings new techniques and advancements and developments," he said. "It allows us to perform new and different procedures and open the door to patients who might otherwise have been excluded because of age or infirmity."

As people age, the prevalence of degenerative spinal conditions such as wearing out of the disks and compression of the spinal nerves increases.

"Patients generally are living longer, and we have a lot of older adults who come in," said Andrea Whedon, RN, APN, nurse practitioner at Rush. "Our procedures offer shortened recovery time for these patients, especially those with multiple other medical problems."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study investigates the cost effectiveness of spinal surgery

Dec 29, 2008

Back pain affects more than 80 percent of people and costs more than $100 billion annually in the U.S. But is the surgery cost effective? A study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center suggests that for patients ...

Surgeon experience affects complication rate of spinal stenosis surgery

Jun 07, 2012

For patients undergoing surgery for spinal stenosis, the risk of complications is higher when the surgeon performs very few such procedures—less than four per year, suggests a study in the June issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeon ...

Lower back pain and surgery

Jun 28, 2010

A literature review, led by Dr. Joseph Lee, published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) suggests that a herniated disk is one of the most frequent causes of low ...

Surgery consultation common after MRI of the spine

Jan 02, 2013

(HealthDay)—Almost half of patients whose primary care physicians recommend a lumbosacral or cervical spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan go on to receive a surgical consultation, but few end up ...

Recommended for you

Preemptive celecoxib cuts post-op face-lift surgery pain

Jul 23, 2014

(HealthDay)—Preemptive treatment with oral celecoxib appears to be effective in decreasing acute postoperative pain in patients undergoing face-lift surgery, according to a study published online July 10 in JAMA Facial Pl ...

Decompression surgery linked to reduced risk of falls

Jul 22, 2014

(HealthDay)—Decompression surgery in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis cuts their risk of falls, compared to similar patients utilizing nonsurgical interventions, according to a study published in the ...

Activity level may predict orthopedic outcomes

Jul 22, 2014

According to a literature review in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), patients' activity level is a strong predictor for how well they will do with certain treatments an ...

User comments