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Minimally Invasive Spine Fusion Surgery

On Topic Video Transcript

Adam S. Kanter, MD

Director, UPMC Minimally Invasive Spine Program

Patients sometimes present with significant back pain that we call mechanical back pain or severe leg pain related to what some may term a spondyloschisis, which is a slippage of the spine. All this means is that the patient has instability of their spine and this is a condition that can ultimately lead to a patient needing fusion surgery.  

What is Spine Fusion Surgery?

Fusion is when we remove the disc, the mobile part of the spine, and we replace it with something that’s no longer mobile, oftentimes bone whether it’s artificial bone or whether it’s some of the patient’s bone themselves. We put that bone into where the disc used to be and then we often times will supplement that with screws or rods or some instrumentation that solidifies the spine so that the mobile segment is no longer mobile. Pain is often associated with abnormal motion, so the way we deal with that is by eliminating that abnormal motion and fusing that portion of the spine. 

Benefits. Minimally Invasive Fusion Surgery

After having a minimally invasive fusion surgery, as opposed to an open or traditional surgery, patients can get back to life much faster. There is a lot less destruction to the natural surrounding tissues of the spine. The muscles, ligaments, tendons...all these are spared or they are simply dilated as opposed to being cut or cauterized during the surgery. Patients are able to get out of the hospital much, much faster, use far less pain medications and really get back to life much, much quicker.

UPMC Advantage

The advantage of coming to UPMC for fusion surgery is that there is a variety of specialists here and there is a multi-team approach in which we determine what the appropriate and best treatment is for each individual patient. If the treatment is going to be open, then we can do that properly. If the treatment can be minimally invasive, then we’ll do what we can to ensure that there is the least destructive procedure performed in order to get the patient back to life and back on their feet again.

For more information, contact us at 412-647-3685 or visit the Neurosurgical Spine Services Division at the University of Pittsburgh.

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