The physicians at John Regan, MD stand at the forefront of minimally invasive surgical treatment. They can diagnose and treat many types of bone and joint problems using these highly advanced techniques. Use of minimally invasive surgical techniques decrease the recovery time of many patients because the surgical incisions are considerably smaller than conventional surgery and therefore less damaging to the other vital soft tissue structures.
This form of surgery is proving to be particularly successful in joint replacement for arthritis as well as reconstruction of fractures and bones and realignment of extremities. In addition, these new techniques allow indirect fracture reduction and fixation, with less likelihood of injury to blood flow to vital structures and less harm to blood vessels and nerves. It is important to note that the technology used to perform minimally invasive orthopedic procedures has undergone significant advances in recent years and the surgeons at John Regan, MD are continuing to improve and refine ways to make surgeries even less invasive.
Several weeks of recovery may be required for traditional “open” spine surgery as it may involve a three-inch long incision, in which muscles and tissues are separated for optimal access to the injury site. The surgery usually results in trauma to surrounding tissues and some blood loss. Because of this the affected tissues and muscles need adequate healing time.
John Regan, MD uses state of the art minimally invasive techniques and instrumentation to help patients recover in a shorter period of time and allow for a quicker return home. Innovative developments in minimally invasive techniques have pioneered better ways for the surgeon to access the spine, moreover making the recovery process more seamless.
In minimally invasive spine surgery, a smaller incision is made, sometimes only a half-inch in length. The surgeon inserts special surgical instruments through these tiny incisions to access the damaged disc in the spine. Entry and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues when using minimally invasive techniques.
Minimally invasive spine surgery requires extensive training and experience to master use of the tools, but there is tremendous benefit for the patient.
Unlike many other spine care providers, the spine patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery at John Regan, MD can often have their surgery on an outpatient basis and be home later the same day. Recovery in one’s own home can be more comfortable than staying in a hospital bed.
With the introduction of minimal access spinal technologies (MAST), spine surgeons can make a smaller incision, while at the same time accomplish identical results as open spine surgery. Due to the acute accuracy provided by these tools, surgeons can access the vertebrae through the narrow probes with surgical cameras and tools.
When damaged disc tissue is removed during spine surgery, the surgeon may need to perform a bone fusion to stabilize the vertebra as well as maintain the disc space between the vertebral bones, which in turn provides room for the nerve roots.
To perform a fusion, the surgeon may harvest a piece of bone from the patient’s pelvis. Unfortunately, this process may cause additional pain and discomfort that may actually be worse than the spine surgery itself.
Other options include using bone from a bone bank, which was harvested from a cadaver and carefully sanitized, or using new man-made bone graft substitutes. Bone graft substitutes have the necessary proteins for healthy bone to heal and regenerate. Consequently, these new man-made bone graft substitutes can be used instead of having to harvest bone from a patient’s hip or from a cadaver. This bone graft is made from pure bone protein (minerals and collagen) and an absorbable collagen sponge that promotes new bone formation where it is needed.
The issue with any new technique is that surgeons have to take time out of their practice to learn how to do minimally invasive spine surgery and some surgeons don’t see the benefit to them personally, so they are less inclined to learn the skill.
For example, some older surgeons at the tail end of their careers may not see the value in having to learn a new skill, especially when it makes a surgery harder for them than if they merely cut a three-inch incision to expose the spine. While a larger incision makes surgery easier because more is exposed, it makes for a more painful recovery, that will take weeks instead of days had they worked through smaller incisions.
Secondly, some health insurance companies don’t provide any higher income for using the new tools and technique that benefit patient recovery. Consequently, some surgeons may take the attitude that if the pay is the same, why bother. Some surgeons who see the obvious benefit for their patients, will invest the time and expense of new technology to provide a faster and easier recovery.
Subsequently, it’s largely the responsibility of the patient to ask the doctor if minimally invasive surgery is an option, and if that doctor is trained in the skill.
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