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What Your Attorney Should Know About Modern Spinal Surgery Options

Attorneys who practice in the area of personal injury must have, at least, a basic understanding of medicine. This helps you to understand your client’s pain and also can help you to advise your client to make an informed decision regarding their medical care. This is especially true when it comes to innovations in spine surgery. Many clients are reluctant to have surgery, but especially reluctant with regards to their spine. As their attorney, it is your job to be knowledgeable about the doctors in your area who specialize in the different surgical procedures available. You should also have some understanding of diagnostic test results such as MRI, CT, contrast studies, NCV and EMG testing. There are several surgical options available to your client. The days of five to seven inch incisions with a lengthy hospital stay and months of rehabilitation are gone.

One of the available procedures is called a facet rhizotomy. This calls for a needle size incision where the surgeon locates the painful nerve and essentially deadens it. The pros to this procedure are that it is outpatient and there is very little down time after the procedure is performed. The patient usually gets immediate relief from this procedure. Some drawbacks to this procedure are that the nerve can regenerate and the symptoms may return.

Another procedure available is endoscopic spine surgery. In this procedure, a small incision is made and the portion of the patient’s disc that is pressing on nerve is removed. If necessary, a fusion with instrumentation can be done. The advantages to this procedure are numerous. The procedure can be done outpatient or with just an overnight stay in the hospital if necessary. There is less rehabilitation involved which means less time missed from work. This procedure has been around for many years now and has been proven to be effective in patients with spinal instability and/or protruding disc which are causing nerve impingement (pinched nerve). The small incision means less damage to muscles and tissue compared to the larger open procedure. A small fusion with instrumentation can be done through the same small incision.

Robotic spine surgery is the newest approach. This procedure is also minimally invasive with less muscle and tissue damage. It is also beneficial because placement of the internal fixation is very precise and this increases what can be corrected in a less invasive surgical approach. This approach also provides for less rehabilitation and healing time which means less time missed from work. The downside to this new approach is finding a surgeon in your area who is trained to do this procedure. Also, there are fewer long-term follow up studies on post surgical patients at this point because of the novelty of the procedure.

Fixation of the spine has improved with the use of infused bone graft and LT -Cage Devise.   Cage Devise is a small, hollow metal cylinder resembling a cage that holds biologic materials to stimulate regrowth of bone by the body.

Stem cell used for regeneration in treating disc injury, disc degeneration and cartilage injury.  This stem cell procedure is also being used to improve success rates in spinal fusion.

Attorneys must understand what options are available when spine surgery is recommended for your client. You must be prepared to educate your clients on the available options and approaches to surgical care so that your client can do their own research and speak to their treating surgeons more effectively. You should also be familiar with which surgeons perform which procedures in your area.

For a more detailed explanation on the above procedures go to YouTube link,, which includes visual examples of each procedure.

What Your Attorney Should Know About Modern Spinal Surgery Options

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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