Lasers for spinal stenosis are currently in use during many surgical procedures on the vertebral column. However, there is promise that in the future, lasers can be used to treat spinal stenosis with the most minimally invasive or even noninvasive care. The prospect of being able to effectively and safely treat various types of vertebral canal and foraminal stenosis without surgery, or with only the most minimally invasive techniques, is surely worth developing and laser manufacturers are working diligently to make this dream a reality.
Laser technologies have revolutionized spinal surgery. Many techniques are now performed with the help of lasers, helping to reduce the risk of typical operations considerably. Lasers are precise, sanitary and able to be focused into the smallest of spaces to treat a wide range of problems in the vertebral column. Imagine if they could be used to cure spinal and foraminal stenosis without any incision at all!
This discussion focuses on the use of lasers to treat various forms of spinal stenosis. We will explore the current applications of lasers for spinal stenosis in the medical sector, as well as possible developments that might make care much better in the future.
Lasers for Spinal Stenosis in Surgery
Currently, lasers can be used to treat spinal stenosis during various surgical procedures. Lasers can be used to remove stenotic blockages safely and effectively within the central vertebral canal, as well as decrease foraminal stenosis and freeing pinched nerves.
Lasers can be utilized in laminectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy and even corpectomy techniques, making them very versatile as surgical stenosis treatment tools. Lasers can also be utilized in surgical symptomatic care techniques, such as nerve ablation that can provide long-lasting or permanent pain management when the stenosis can not be safely or effectively resolved due to case-specific circumstances.
Lasers reduce the risk of infection and cross contamination during all forms of spinal surgery. Lasers can be directed using computer robotic controls, making them far more precise than hand-held surgical tools. Best of all, lasers can be tuned to only affect specific tissue types, making collateral damage to healthy spinal cells far less likely.
Laser Therapy Without Surgery
Even now, lasers have stretched the boundaries of minimally-invasive surgical care to the extreme. Stenosis can be treated using small incisions, rather than the large open dissection of decades past. However, in the future, it may be possible for lasers to be used through the skin to treat spinal stenosis inside the spinal canal without any incisions at all.
Medical laser manufacturers are working on developing tools that will allow doctors to eliminate all manner of pathology inside the body without having to access the problem directly via surgery. This idea of treating internal pathology externally has been successfully implemented using various forms of medical technologies, including radiation, deep heat, deep cold, and various forms of sound wave therapies. Lasers could be the very next technology to follow suit. Many types of lasers are already used for this exact purpose, so it is probably just a matter of time before actual surgical tools are adapted to be used externally with no cutting needed!
Warnings on Lasers for Spinal Stenosis
Lasers are still risky. They can damage healthy tissues and are often used in combination with traditional surgical techniques that are inherently traumatic. Therefore, just because a procedure uses lasers does not mean that it is completely safe or that it will be effective. Lasers are just tools that can increase safety and effectiveness of some procedures, but they still must be utilized correctly and by expertly-trained hands.
Our more important warning on the use of lasers for spinal stenosis is that many surgical techniques are not needed at all. Some stenosis is misdiagnosed as the cause of symptomology, when it is actually an innocent, incidental factor. In these case profiles, resolving the stenosis using lasers, or any surgical approach for that matter, will prove ineffective. The patient will continue to experience pain, since the stenosis was never the true origin of suffering. Patients must therefore be very cautious that their diagnosis is sound and verified before undergoing laser surgery or any dramatic treatment for spinal stenosis.