Masson Spine Institute is a center for minimally invasive spine surgery and treatments. We specialize in minimally invasive spine techniques that provide the highest standards of patient care you deserve and expect. Masson Spine Institute offers the most current and least invasive options available today. We treat many types of problems of acute and chronic spine, including pinched nerves, herniated discs, spinal stenosis and bone spurs. Our diagnostic procedures and advanced techniques clearly offer patients the best chance of returning to live a normal life without pain.
Minimally invasive Spine Surgery techniques have gained so much attention in the last several years and yet more often than not most patients really don’t understand the good, bad and ugly when making their own treatment decisions. Bottom line, the most important question regarding a proposed back and spine Surgery procedure and its benefit is ‘does the surgery hit the target?’ That is when minimally invasive technology becomes important. As an educated patient you need to understand the difference between the tools, the philosophy and the marketing.
Many tools are useful in minimally invasive spine surgery. Everyone knows about lasers, endoscopes, microscopes and so on. It is important to understand that every tool has a benefit when used properly and the benefits vary depending on the skill set of the surgeon using them. In other words, when you read about the miraculous benefits of laser surgery it is important to understand that a surgeon still needs to get the laser to the target, and it is the access that defines minimally invasive approaches. When the surgeon discusses the proposed ‘minimally invasive spine procedure’ it is not the tool used in dealing with a herniated disc but the amount of retraction, the amount of soft tissue damage, the accuracy of the approach and the efficiency of movement that defines the procedure as minimally invasive. It is critical not to be dazzled by the technology and to focus on the strategy being discussed when you choose a minimally invasive spine procedure.
Minimally invasive surgery is a philosophy not an approach. All well rounded and competent spine surgeons have a variety of approaches and tools. They can approach the spine from the front, the back and the side, but it is choosing the best approach, and least trauma that defines a procedure as minimally invasive. The philosophy of minimally invasive spine surgery provides for all approaches to be done with minimal trauma and maximal benefit. Minimally invasive spine surgery goes wrong when it is minimal strategy surgery or when the goals are sacrificed to achieve the outcome. It is critical that the goals of the surgery are understood, and that they have a statistically significant chance of achieving the outcome desired. A thoughtful minimally invasive surgical approach involves the highest sophistication in preoperative diagnosis and planning, and requires that significant effort is provided by the surgical team to understand the problem, the symptoms, the patients needs, expectations and goals and ultimately the liabilities as it relates to each individual patient.
How do we handle the marketing? There are many multibillion dollar medical device companies marketing the tools and devices that they manufacture like the artificial disc, specific approach related re-tractor systems, endoscopes, lasers. Surgical practices reflect these in their own marketing materials and websites. Don’t be afraid to ask how each surgeon uses these devices, how many have they done, are they limited to one approach, and to question how their use of ‘their tool’ will help you achieve your results. There are many spine surgeons embracing for example, a lateral minimally invasive placement of a cage or a bone graft. This is a well recognized minimally invasive approach. That falls apart however, when the second part of the procedure, placement of pedicle screws is done via an open, large and muscle injuring approach. In order for a procedure to truly be minimally invasive surgery, all components must be done diligently, with little trauma and with safety.
The bottom line, is that a competent spine surgeon will do the procedure that they are good at, and that is thoughtful and well planned, whether it is minimally invasive or not. It is important that as the patient you make your ultimate choices based on the relationship, your trust and the reputation of the surgeon, and if it does not feel like a good fit, find a surgeon who is a good fit. You will live with the effects of the chosen surgery for the rest of your life.
See more on the iMas & the Masson Keyhole Procedure page. These procedures were created by Dr. Robert Masson of the Masson Spine Institute and have been adapted by neurosurgeons around the world. Dr. Masson has performed over 10,000 procedures using these techniques which result in a substantially shorter recovery time.