Laser Spine Surgery: Fact or Fiction?drrspine2017-06-28T15:41:53+00:00
Laser Spine Surgery will get you back to playing golf the next day! Or so we are told in splashy magazine ads and videos. We all wish this was true, but conditions and individuals are all unique and few are alike to have this quick a result.
Lasers can be used in surgery, but they are not a healing component of the surgery. And, depending on the type of spine surgery you have, lasers are likely not used at all.
A standard tool used in many procedures is an electrosurgical tool called a “Bovie”, named after it’s inventor. It’s not a laser. This tool uses electric current to electrocoagulate, or cauterize wounds. Unlike a laser, this tool is applied directly to tissue with instant results. So why don’t we hear about the Bovie instrument?
Lasers are Marketing Tools.
The reason you hear about Lasers, and not other tools, is simple: it sounds like science fiction and futuristic tools, which we all assume are better. It’s marketing jargon, not medical. The fact is that the use of lasers in actual surgery is minimal at best, and offer no additional value than the standard instruments used.
Dr. Edward Rustamzadeh elaborates: "There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear a patient asking me if I will or can do their surgery using a laser. I have to inform them that a laser is a tool just as any other surgical tool, and each tool has its indications."
Lasers have been very helpful in other fields of medicine, but there is currently no indication for the use of lasers in spine surgery. There are no codes or payments by insurors for laser-specific spinal surgery. It is purely marketing. Dr. Rustamzadeh says "I inform my patients that they can call any university medical center and ask if their surgeons use lasers in spine surgery. The answer to that is NO! Then I ask my patients why is that? Is it that no other facility other than the Laser Spine Institute is able to use lasers? Unfortunately, medicine has slid down the slippery slope of seeing a patient as a customer rather than a human being with an illness or condition that needs to be treated. Like any business, you sell what a customer wants to buy!"
Laser Spine Institute and other laser-focused organizations offer what customers (patients) want to hear, not what they need. Patients want something faster and less pain, and these promises are given, but often at a later, higher-cost to patients in the form of revision surgery or poor outcomes.
Dr. Rustamzadeh is happy to discuss the pros and cons of laser surgery with you, and help demystify lasers and their promises. The goal is to get you – the patient – the proper care and treatment you deserve, with a reasonable expectation of outcomes.