Frankfort Regional Medical Center

Fall/Winter 2016

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299 King's Daughters Drive Frankfort, KY 40601 This publication in no way seeks to serve as a substitute for professional medical care. Consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. Â To schedule an appointment with Dr. Myers, call Consult-A-Nurse® at 877-376-2631 or 502-226-1655, or visit Laser spine surgery, a nontraditional form of spine surgery, became available to the public in the 1980s and has been promoted by many practitioners as a minimally invasive means of spine surgery. However, there is little scientific evidence to support the safety or efficacy of laser spine surgery. In fact, the risks may outweigh the benefits. Mark Myers, MD, spine surgeon at Frankfort Regional Hospital, explains why laser spine surgery is not the right choice for most patients. Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LASER SPINE SURGERY AND TRADITIONAL SPINE SURGERY? Dr. Myers: There is not a lot of difference between the two types of surgeries. A laser is a cutting tool, and it generally doesn't do anything that traditional surgical cutting tools can't do. The biggest difference between the two types of surgery is cost. Because it's not a standard procedure and there's very little data to show that laser spine surgery is an improvement over standard techniques, insurance companies often do not cover it, which means patients pay fully out of pocket—usually tens of thousands of dollars. Q. IS LASER SPINE SURGERY EFFECTIVE? Dr. Myers: I've seen and treated several patients who have had laser spine surgery—sometimes multiple procedures—and have expressed to me that their laser spine procedure didn't help, was too expensive or that any improvement they felt didn't last long. Laser spine surgery is not a standard procedure for most spine surgeons, not only because there is little evidence that it fixes many of the underlying causes of back problems and insurance companies don't cover it, but also because traditional spine surgery has been proven to work. Additionally, if complications arise after traditional spine surgery, patients can expect careful postsurgical care. However, facilities that offer laser spine surgery often are not hospitals or affiliated with hospitals, and, thus, may not be equipped with the staff or resources to deal with potential postsurgical care or any complications that may arise. Q. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PATIENTS WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM SPINE ISSUES AND MAY NEED SURGERY? Dr. Myers: Talk with your doctor, who can refer you to a spine surgeon. If your surgeon does recommend surgery as the best treatment option, there is good news. Insurance companies usually cover traditional spine surgeries, and recent technological advances have made it possible to treat spine conditions with a surgical technique that accesses the spine via small incisions rather than a long incision. Accessing the spine via small incisions, surgeons are able to minimize damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. Overall, modern spine procedures usually result in less pain after surgery and faster recovery. Furthermore, because traditional spine surgeries are performed in hospitals, you will have access to postsurgical care, should any complications arise. Thinking about having laser spine surgery? You may want to reconsider. Answers about Spine Surgery Mark Myers, MD

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