What is laser spine surgery?

Lasers have been used for many years in medicine and surgery. Their role, however, in spinal surgery is extremely limited and for good reason.

Lasers can be used to cut through soft tissues like skin and fat. This can also be done using a traditional scalpel without the risk of thermal (heat) injury to surrounding tissues and without the significant expense of using a laser.

A scalpel also provides the surgeon with tactile feedback while cutting tissues, allowing the surgeon to easily make adjustments. Tactile feedback is lost when using a laser.

More importantly, the main goal of spine surgery is to decompress nerves and/or the spinal cord. Compression of nerves is most commonly caused by disk herniation or bone overgrowth. It takes specially designed surgical instruments and drills to safely remove pressure on a nerve caused by bone or disk material. These tools allow a surgeon to work on and around a nerve without causing damage. Decompression of nerves is usually the most critical component of a successful spine surgery for nerve pressure, and it cannot be done using a laser.

Lasers are not needed to provide minimally invasive surgery.

Again, this type of surgery utilizes special instruments to minimize damage to the surrounding tissues. Using a laser has not been shown to provide any benefit but would likely add significant cost to your procedure.

Therefore, the use of lasers in degenerative spine surgery provides no generally accepted benefit and is mainly used as a marketing tool. Before signing up for a laser spine procedure make sure you do your research and ask the right questions.