Mar 1, 2015

It’s not unusual for the subject of laser surgery to come up when I am discussing treatment options with patients. The curiosity about laser spine surgery makes sense given the benefits touted by laser spine surgery providers. Laser spine procedures are often promoted as a less-invasive alternative to traditional back surgeries promising high success rates, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery periods.

The idea of finding relief from back pain through a relatively short and simple procedure sounds enticing, however, many of the claims surrounding the effectiveness of laser spine surgery have yet to be proven in clinical trials. As a result, the North American Spine Society, a non-profit medical association focused on improving spine medicine through advocacy, research and education, recently issued a policy recommendation stating that laser spine surgery in the cervical or lumbar spine is not indicated at this time. The Society cited a lack of quality research involving laser spine surgery for its decision.

Since insurers use the NASS recommendations as guidelines, obtaining coverage for laser spine surgery could be increasingly difficult. According to an article produced by Bloomberg News, the rates charged for laser spine surgery are often twice as much as insurers are paying for traditional spine surgeries.

At this point, I see no reason to implement laser spine surgery in my practice. I believe I can gain better results through more well-researched methods, including minimally invasive spinal microsurgery utilizing an advanced, high technology operating microscope – the highest-tech spine surgery available today.

It’s important to remember that spine surgery – whether executed with or without lasers – is rarely a quick fix for spinal issues. In fact, many patients suffering from back problems don’t require surgery and often experience improvement in symptoms through non-surgical treatment options.