Laser Surgery

Summit Orthopedics is committed to offering a multidisciplinary approach to spine care, with the most advanced and proven spine treatments available. When it is appropriate, we always begin with conservative, nonsurgical treatment. If a conservative treatment plan fails to resolve a problem or provide relief, we may consider surgical options.

Laser surgery is one among many surgical options available to physicians in every medical subspecialty. Lasers were introduced to surgical practice in 1973 as a new way to make surgical incisions. This form of surgery uses a laser tool to burn through tissue. Traditional surgery uses a scalpel to cut through tissue. Laser surgery and minimally invasive surgery both use smaller incisions than traditional surgery, but they are otherwise very different. Minimally invasive procedures use traditional surgical techniques guided inside the body by tiny endoscopic cameras and 3-D imaging that displays the surgical area onto television monitors. Laser surgery merely uses a laser to burn away tissue, rather than a scalpel cut it away.

We incorporate a new surgical technique into our spine practice when clinical trials indicate that the new technique improves outcomes or offers other compelling patient benefits. Lasers have proved effective to correct vision and as a tool in specific neurosurgeries, but in other subspecialties—including spine surgery—evidence of effectiveness is lacking.

There have been some spine surgeries performed with lasers, but no clinical trials have confirmed that making incisions with a laser instead of a scalpel results in better spine outcomes or other surgical benefits. In addition, laser spine procedures have not been endorsed by the recognized health authorities in the United States that help to guide gold standards for patient care.

New surgical techniques are always being introduced. These techniques are studied in clinical trials to determine which techniques are the safest and most effective. At Summit Orthopedics, our surgical specialists regularly follow research and clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of each new option that becomes available. Surgical approaches that prove effective and improve patient outcomes are incorporated into our practice.

We offer well-tested surgical tools—like minimally invasive techniques and new implantable devices—because clinical trials have conclusively demonstrated their advantages. The minimally invasive surgical techniques we use have been proven to require smaller incisions, minimize damage to surrounding tissue, reduce blood loss, provide a faster and less painful recovery, and result in better long-term outcomes for patients.

There are no clear documented benefits for using laser surgery—and there are well-established studies confirming the effectiveness of other spine surgery techniques. For these reasons, we do not recommend laser surgery as an alternative to clinically proven surgical methods endorsed by national medical authorities.

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