Dr. Laura Snyder Discusses Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

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Dr. Laura Snyder discussing minimally invasive approaches to spine surgery with Susan Casper of ABC15 Sonoran Living.

What should you know about minimally invasive surgery? Dr. Laura Snyder, neurosurgeon at Barrow Brain and Spine will walk us through some of the most common questions and answers.

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Q: When should someone consider seeing a spine surgeon?

A: Most common back pain can be attributed to overuse of the muscles in the area, and this can be prevented by careful attention to posture, body mechanics, and exercise.  However, if you are having back pain and/or leg pain that is consistently preventing you from performing your daily activities, or if that pain is associated with a specific injury, it may be worth discussing it with your primary care physician. Your primary care will likely order imaging of your back, such as an Xray or MRI.

Depending on your symptoms and the results of that imaging, your primary care physician may or may not refer you to see a spine surgeon.

Q: When should I consider surgery?

A: Surgery should always be the last resort when it comes to treating spinal conditions. However, if various non-operative treatments have been attempted without improvement or worsening over a 6-12 month period, then surgical treatment may be possible for certain specific conditions. The decision for surgery should be individualized to the patient and the patient’s symptoms, along with the patient’s level of function.

Q: Do all spine surgeries require lots of pain and long recoveries?

A: Not any more. The goal of minimally invasive spine surgery is to effectively treat the patient’s pathology with the least amount of tissue trauma and tissue dissection. Minimally invasive spine surgery significantly lowers pain and shortens recovery times. Many patients go home the same day as their surgery. And because MISS can improve outcomes, it can also reduce long-term pain and complications.

Q: What kinds of spine conditions can be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery?

A: The traditional open surgery  technique relies on dissection of the tissue away to see necessary structures.  In minimally invasive techniques, special retractor systems and instruments are used to dilate through the tissue rather than destroy it.

Multiple disease processes can be treated with a minimally invasive approach, and the field continues to grow.  Disc herniations can be removed as can bone spurs surrounding nerve roots.  Patients who have degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, sciatica, and spondylolisthesis can be treated with minimally invasive techniques.  Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that require standard open treatment, such as high-degree scoliosis, infection, and some tumors.I perform both minimally invasive spine surgery and open surgery.  I perform the type of surgery that is best suited for the individual patient.  The best surgery is the one individualized to the patient’s diagnosis and overall patient condition.

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