Laser Spine Surgery: Facts and Fictions

FACT: There is no such thing, procedurally speaking, as Laser Spine Surgery.

The laser is simply a tool that MAY be used during spinal procedures, procedure during which the laser serves a very specific purpose such as performing an ablation. For a list of true spine treatments available to you, visit our treatment section.

The term Laser Spine Surgery has trended upwards on the internet for years now. And because of that trend, of many people searching for pain relief from chronic spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs are being exposed to the idea that laser spine surgery is an actual procedure.

Here are some very important facts and fictions regarding lasers and how they are used during certain spinal procedures.

Facts

  • "A Laser is only used to assist in spine surgery."

    A laser beam helps with tissue modulations; removal of scar tissue ring, adhesions and bone osteophytes; and bleeding coagulations. A laser is only useful when the spinal pain generators are clearly diagnosed and localized. Laser spine surgery does not mean surgeons are to complete surgery using a laser only.

  • "The most commonly used laser in spine surgery is the Holmium YAG laser."

    This is a low energy laser, penetrating soft tissue at .4 mm and bone tissue .2 mm.

  • "Lasers have long been used in different types of surgery"

    Eye surgery is a good example with proven efficiency and safety.

Fictions

  • "Laser spine surgery is minimally invasive surgery"

    A laser is only a tool that surgeons use to assist in surgery. It can be used for open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. However, it is commonly used in endoscopic spine surgery, because under magnification of camera-assisted view, surgeons can use lasers precisely. It is a misconception that laser spine surgery equals endoscopic spine surgery. Again, a laser is not absolutely needed in endoscopic spine surgery.

  • "A laser is the only tool used during spine surgery"

    There are many tools other than a laser that are used in an effective decompression procedure such as graspers, burrs, cutters, etc.

  • "A laser is absolutely needed in spine surgery"

    This is absolutely not true. Although a laser is a very useful tool for modern spine surgery, its application for spine decompression is very limited. It is not effective in removing large disc herniations, resecting large bone spurs, or stabilizing the spine.

Now that you know laser spine surgery is not an actual procedure and that a laser is simply one of many tools used during spine surgery, it is time to move on to learning more about some of the procedures that may be suitable for the treatment of your condition.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding our use of lasers in some of our treatment options, we would be more than happy to have one of our patient advocates guide you along the process of getting you the answers you need. Visit our quick contact page and fill out the very short form and one of our patient advocates will be back in touch with you shortly after receiving your inquiry.

Endoscopic spine procedures can be used to correct many of the conditions that cause chronic back pain or to repair failed previous surgeries.

- Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD President, Atlantic Spine Center Read More about Dr.Liu
Dr. Liu