By: Hamilton Spectator
Minimally invasive spinal surgery is becoming more common, but a new study by McMaster University researchers says physicians should not be too hasty in giving up on traditional open surgical techniques.
The study, published this week in CMAJ Open, was led by Nathan Evaniew, a physician who is a research fellow in orthopedics and a PhD student in health research methodologies at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
“We failed to show an advantage for this new technology,” said Evaniew. “We should be cautious before widely adopting this new technology.”
More than 5 per cent of Canadians suffer from neck and lower back spinal disc diseases. They are confronted with pain, and often disability and loss of income.
For some of those affected, surgery is the only option and typically involves a discectomy, the removal herniated disc material pressing on the nerve root or spinal cord in the neck or lower back.
Depending on resources available, some patients will either have the operation done using minimally invasive technology or standard surgery.
Evaniew says the results tend to be similar so he feels “the additional cost, radiation exposure and risk for complication” is not justified by using minimally invasive technology.
As well as the cost for equipment, minimally invasive surgery requires advanced technical expertise and could lead to neurologic injury, he said. Radiation exposure is an issue because numerous fluoroscopic images have to be taken, something not required in more traditional surgery.