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Welcome back, friends. As discussed in my previous blog, spinal conditions and the types of surgeries that ensue can be complex. Exploring a number of other spinal issues, I thought covering the following would be appropriate.

At times, a stabilizing spinal reconstruction with disc replacement or fusion technique may be most suitable for return to action. There are several types of options here, one of the most common being spinal fusion surgery. This is done by a surgeon fusing two vertebrae together to form a single, stable cohesive unit that prevents movement, which is often the cause of pain.

Patients suffering from spondylolisthesis are the best candidates for this surgery, as this is an unstable misalignment of two or more vertebrae that causes painful movement. Fusing said vertebrae with proper alignment, using rods and screws can prevent continued and progressively deteriorating pain. However, spinal fusion is not for everyone, and is not considered a long-term option. The joint can wear over time, leading to the familiar pain that was once cured. That said, I have been performing this surgery successfully since the early 90’s and have followed some pleased patients for nearly 20 years.

Motion sparing procedures have gained FDA approval recently and are increasing in popularity. Here choices include interspinous devices and artificial disc replacement (ADR). Spinal disc replacement or arthroplasty may serve in select patients as an appropriate choice for procedure. It combines a minimally invasive technique and motion sparing principles while decompressing the nerves and stabilizing the segment. As a principle FDA investigator on such artificial disc since 2003, I have performed this operation with remarkable and sustainable success over the years. I am pleased with the recent adoption and FDA approvals.

Laser spine surgery seems to be more of a dated technique now that minimally invasive surgery not including a laser has become a staple among hospitals across the world, and has been found to be much more effective. In the past, patients may have undergone this procedure due to spinal stenosis, herniated discs, or sciatica. However, the actual use of lasers was later discovered to be not much more effective than traditional methods, paving the way for minimally invasive surgery.

Coflex is another alternative to standard surgical practices that involves a stabilization procedure excluding rods and screws for patients suffering from spinal stenosis. Coflex’s signature device is a titanium implant that stabilizes the spine following surgical decompression, helping maintain your spine’s normal foraminal height and motion. This implant allows for much more flexibility compared to rods and screws, but is much stronger as well thanks to its titanium makeup. Additional benefits of this procedure include a much shorter recovery period, lasting relief for years to follow, minimal blood loss upon being surgically implanted, and more natural movement.

Part 3 of this blog series will include even more spinal complications to know and understand, and which types of surgery are best suited for each.