Spinal Stenosis Laser Surgery

Back Surgery Information

In the past, the only available spinal operations involved risky techniques with long post-surgical recovery. Today, with the advances achieved in medical science, patients with back ailments have the option of undergoing spinal stenosis laser surgery. This is a much simpler, non-invasive type of surgery unlike the traditional back surgery operations that involved cutting wide areas of body tissue.

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal that encloses the spinal cord and nerve roots becomes narrowed. The nerves rooted in the spinal cord extend into various parts of the body, including the arms and legs. Consequently the person experiences symptoms of pain, muscle weakness, decreased reflexes, and numbness in the limbs. Aging, osteoarthritis, trauma and strenuous physical activities in younger people are typical causes of stenosis. In some cases spinal stenosis is genetically inherited, whereby the individual has an inherently small spinal cord which slowly contracts further over the years.

When a person is diagnosed with spinal stenosis, the doctor will usually start them off on non-surgical treatments such as pain medications, steroid injections and physiotherapy. If these treatments fail then spinal stenosis laser surgery may be recommended.

Laser surgery is used to treat a variety of back ailments such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, scar tissue, bone spurs and pinched nerves. It is a fairly simple and highly effective procedure. Unlike the traditional open back or neck surgery, there is minimal cutting and invasion of the body tissues. Laser stands for ‘Light amplification by the Stimulate Emission of Radiation’. When very intense beams of light are focused onto particular area of the body, the tissue breaks apart. Laser beams are used in surgery to cut through various tissues.

During the laser surgery, the physician may remove material such as bone spur or discs parts that are compressing the spinal cord or nerves, a process known as decompression. The spinal canal can be further expanded by removing superfluous tissue. The decompression and enlargement of the spinal passageway relieves the pressure on the neural structures and gives the patient immense relief from pain and other symptoms.

Other benefits of a spinal stenosis laser surgery compared to an open back surgery are experienced in the post-operative recovery stage. The patient may not need to stay at the hospital for several days, and quite often it is conducted as a day surgical procedure.

Through physical therapy and daily home exercises, a person can rebuild their strength and stamina within a few short weeks. The laser surgery targets only the precise area that needs treatment and leaves the surrounding tissue intact. Since only minimal incisions are made, the risk of bleeding and infection is considerably less. There is also less scarring of the skin.

The success rate for spinal stenosis laser surgery is quite high – over 80% in many instances - with patients experiencing notable relief of pain or complete elimination of their symptoms within weeks. Often the surgery only requires a local anesthesia which reduces the immediate post-recovery time. Since laser surgery is a less complicated procedure it also means that the cost of treatment is also lower.