Spine surgery has come a long, long way.
Dr. Ebinu’s lecture focused on evolving trends in spine surgery. But to show where spine surgery is headed, he began by talking about its past. And what a past!
The first evidence of spine surgery was found in Egyptian mummies around 3000 B.C., he said. Historians have descriptions of spine surgery in ancient Greece and the Middle Ages. Surgery in those times was painful and risky, to say the least.
Modern spine surgery is completely different from its ancient beginnings, being both much safer and much more effective. Even so, modern spine surgery is still major surgery, often requiring large incisions and long hospital stays. Dr. Ebinu spoke about the latest advancement in spine treatment: minimally invasive surgery.
Here, surgeons including Dr. Ebinu rely on imaging techniques such as X-ray, CT and MRI to see inside the body before surgery. And to assist with performing the surgery, they employ state-of-the-art computer guided navigation technology. This way, the area to be treated can be targeted more precisely, requiring a much smaller incision. The surgery itself can then be completed using tiny tools and a camera.
Dr. Ebinu cited studies showing that this small incision results in less pain and faster healing. Patients tend to need less time in the hospital and have shorter recovery times once they go home. He also said that minimally invasive surgery tends to result in fewer post-operative infections and complications.
In fact, he said, minimally invasive spine surgery is tolerated so much better by the body that it can be used in elderly patients who might not be good candidates for large-incision surgery. He explained that as people age they are more likely to have spine problems, and surgery can provide relief from painful and debilitating symptoms.
Elderly patients also tend to have many other medical problems that put them at a higher risk for surgery, let alone large-incision spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery, he said, has been shown to work well with the elderly population of patients while protecting them from some of the risks of surgery.
In his talk Dr. Ebinu said that “change is part of surgery.” Spine surgery has certainly changed over time, and Dr. Ebinu is hopeful that minimally invasive spine surgery will become increasingly available as it continues to evolve, bringing us safer surgeries with better outcomes.
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