The Myth of Laser Spine Surgery

Many people are under the impression that a laser is the main surgical tool used in the procedure advertised as laser spine surgery. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, according to back painneurosurgeon Dr. Scott Simon of Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS).

What’s more, Dr. Simon believes that use of a laser in spine surgery is more of a marketing gimmick than surgical innovation. “The laser is only used to remove the soft tissue over the spine after an incision has been made and the surgeon performs whatever minimally invasive procedure is called for,” Dr. Simon explained. “Using a laser actually creates an unnecessary step to the surgery.” If soft tissue needs to be removed from the spine, electrocautery, in which a heated needle is used, is a more effective technique, he added

Lasers are certainly not new technology. Lasers have been available for use in medicine since 1973. However, they have not been widely adopted as a tool to be used in spinal surgery. “Most neurosurgeons do not use or recommend the use of lasers for spine surgery because there are no clear benefits and there are other well-established and documented studies proving the effectiveness of more modern and established spine surgery techniques,” Dr. Simon said, adding that ONS neurosurgeons do not use or recommend laser spine surgery.

The laser is in fact just a light that burns soft tissues and is unable to remove ligaments, discs, bone or bone spurs. It is actually much less precise than the more modern surgical tools. Bone spurs that press on nerves or the spinal cord, for instance, are easily taken care of through minimally invasive spine surgery. “The outcomes are excellent and patients often go home the same day as their procedure,” Dr. Simon said.

The majority of spine conditions can be effectively treated without surgery, noted Dr. Simon. When surgery is recommended, he advises patients to carefully research the qualifications of the neurosurgeon and surgical facility. “Minimally invasive spine surgery, fusionless spine surgery and outpatient spine surgery are often advertised as the latest advances in spine care, when in fact the specialists at ONS and elsewhere have been performing and improving these procedures for nearly 20 years,” he said.

Schedule a consultation with an ONS spine specialist at our offices in Greenwich or Stamford, CT or in Harrison, NY by calling 203-869-1145 or submit this online form.

 

Double Shoulder Replacement Restores Mobility

SHOULDER REPLACEMENT REGAINS HIS ACTIVE LIFESTYLE JUST MONTHS FOLLOWING SURGERY. 

Arthritis had taken its toll on Dave’s shoulders. He was in constant pain. Sleeping was difficult and it was nearly impossible for him to take part in activities that he loves.  Then, two friends with similar shoulder issuesD.Hapke in Kayak referred Dave to shoulder surgeon, Dr. Seth Miller at ONS.  “When I met him, I immediately knew he was the doctor I wanted to care for me. He was thorough, thoughtful and patient. He has a great bedside manner and took the time to completely answer all my questions,” he recalled. 

Dave had his first shoulder replacement in January, 2013; the second one was done a year later. In both instances, the therapists had him doing exercises the day after surgery, which he continued at home within the week. Through a physical therapy program over the next few months, Dave was able to build muscle mass to help support his new shoulders.

Just 16 weeks after surgery, Dave was back on the water kayaking pain free. These days, he goes to the gym 2- 3 times a week and kayaks quite a bit on ponds, lakes and streams. He can even carry his  kayak.

“I am so grateful to have my active life back, thanks to ONS!” he said.

Shoulder replacement surgery and reverse shoulder replacement surgery is not for everyone. In many cases, treatment such as icing, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy can help get shoulder pain from arthritis under control. However, if pain persists, as it did with Dave, it may be time to consider a surgical option, notes Dr. Miller.

With arthritis and some fractures and injuries, the cartilage of the shoulder gradually wears away, creating a situation where bone is rubbing against bone. The resulting inflammation is extremely painful and makes shoulder mobility progressively more difficult. This condition typically develops later in life and gets worse over time.

The shoulder replacement procedure replaces the damaged joint with a highly-polished metal ball attached to a stem and a plastic socket. As long as a patient has an intact functioning rotator cuff, it can be an extremely successful procedure.

However, there is a group of patients that not only have significant cartilage damage in their shoulder, but also have a torn rotator cuff that is beyond repair. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that run from the shoulder blade to the upper arm and allows patient to elevate their arm. Twenty years ago, treatment options were limited. In 2004, the FDA approved a reverse shoulder replacement procedure that was being used successfully overseas.

The surgery takes about two hours and involves a small incision, usually about three to four inches in length. Patients can expect to stay in the hospital somewhere from one to three days. Further, patients will be released with their arm in a sling, and undergo exercises to reestablish range of motion with the joint.

Between four and eight weeks after surgery, patients should be able to raise their arms above their heads without pain. Three to four months after surgery, patients are gradually resuming the activities of daily living. Many patients remark after recovery that they feel like they’ve been given their life back.

ONS’ Dr. Seth Miller was one of the first in the metropolitan area to perform reverse shoulder replacement surgery. He will take part in a Joint Replacement Symposium at Greenwich Hospital with ONS colleagues and joint replacement surgeons Drs. Frank Ennis and Brian Kavanagh.

The event will be held on Wed. May 11 starting at 6 p.m.  To register, call 203-863-4277 or online.

ONS MDs to Discuss Chronic Pain

DEMETRIS DELOS, MD AND CHRISTOPHER SAHLER, MD OF ONS TO DISCUSS EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS FOR CHRONIC PAIN. 

Maintaining quality of life while living with chronic pain is no easy feat. Two orthopedic specialists from ONS will discuss effective new treatments to help people with relentless pain return to the WavenyPain Flyer (2)activities they enjoy.  Join Demetris Delos, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine an comprehensive knee and shoulder, and interventional pain management physiatrist, Christopher Sahler, MD for this informative talk on Wednesday, May 11 at The Inn at Waveny, 73 Oenoke Ridge in New Canaan.  Doors open at 4:00 pm for refreshments. Presentation begins at 4:30. RSVP at 203-594-5310 or mntiri@waveny.org.

 

Regenerative Medicine and Chronic Pain

IS REGENERATIVE MEDICINE THE ANSWER TO YOUR CHRONIC PAIN? 

In the past, most cases of damaged tissue within the body were considered irreversible, but developments in regenerative medicine hold the potential to change all that, writes Christopher Sahler, PRPMD, an interventional pain management specialist at ONS, in this week’s edition of the Greenwich Sentinel.  Although research into harnessing the body’s own healing process using amniotic fluids, blood, tissues, growth factors and stem cells is ongoing, certain biomedical therapies are in use today to help ordinary people suffering from orthopedic conditions and chronic pain.  The most common treatment, using platelet rich plasma collected from a patient’s own blood, is administered in a physician’s office using ultrasound guided injections directly into the diseased or damaged tissue to restart and increase the healing process.  Read the full article in the April 1 edition of Greenwich Sentinel.

Regenerative Medicine Benefits

Dr. Christopher Sahler
                Dr. Christopher Sahler

ONS PAIN MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, CHRISTOPHER SAHLER, MD, WILL DISCUSS THE BENEFITS OF REGENERATIVE MEDICINE AT GREENWICH HOSPITAL TALK.

Does your own blood hold the key to healing your medical condition? The evolving field of regenerative medicine uses biomedical materials, often from your own body, to regenerate cells and rebuild diseased and damaged tissues. Join Dr. Christopher Sahler to learn about this exciting new medical field that uses therapies from blood, platelets and stem cells to treat pain and cure complex, often chronic conditions of the musculoskeletal system.  Healing Yourself: The Promise of Regenerative Medicine for Chronic Pain and Orthopaedic Care will take place on Thursday, March 10 at Greenwich Hospital’s Noble Auditorium.  6 – 7:30 pm. Free.  To register, call 203-863-4277 or go to greenwichhospital.org.

ONS’s Christopher Sahler, MD, Offers Tips for Combating Chronic Pain

Sahler - icontactExercise can help people with chronic pain return to daily activities with ease and comfort, writes Dr. Christopher Sahler, interventional pain management specialist at ONS in this week’s issue of the Greenwich Sentinel.  Slowing down is wise advice if pain is caused by an injury, he said, but a growing body of research suggests people suffering from chronic pain may feel better if they keep moving.

Not only does inactivity lead to a myriad of problems from weight gain to depression, it can actually exacerbate a person’s perception of pain.  Moderate, adaptive exercise, he explains, helps alleviate unrelenting pain because it releases endorphins, brain chemicals that improve mood and act as natural painkillers. Exercise provides the additional benefits of increasing a person’s agility and range of motion and it can stregnthen muscles to prevent injury.  Read the entire article which includes tips for gradually returning to normal, daily activities with greater ease and comfort.