motion preserving spine surgery

Motion Preserving Spine Surgery:
Advancing Patient Mobility and Outcomes

Since the mid-1900s, spinal fusion surgery has been used to treat chronic back and neck pain. Stabilizing the spine by permanently joining – or “fusing” – two or more vertebrae together can be highly effective in relieving pain. However, this common procedure has its limitations and potential complications – including restricted movement. For this reason, neurosurgeons are increasingly employing “motion-preserving” surgical techniques that optimize long-term benefits while minimizing the risk of complications.

Jonathan J. Baskin, MD

Atlantic Brain and Spine Neurosurgeon Dr. Jonathan Baskin, an expert in motion preservation techniques, recently spoke with NJ Advance Media.

What is motion-preserving spine surgery?

Motion-preserving spine surgery refers to a range of surgical techniques including artificial disc replacement, dynamic stabilization, and motion-preserving decompression. These procedures – designed to treat disc degeneration, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis – all maintain the spine’s natural range of motion, flexibility and function.

What are the benefits of motion-preserving spine surgery?

In addition to maintaining mobility, motion-preserving techniques can offer several potential benefits compared to traditional spinal fusion procedures:

  • Shorter surgical procedure time and reduced blood loss
  • Smaller incisions with diminished postoperative pain
  • Faster postoperative recovery and rehabilitation times
  • Elimination of the need for postoperative bracing such as a cervical collar or body brace
  • Sustained or improved spinal flexibility / range of motion
  • Reduced stress on neighboring spine levels with lowered risk for further surgeries
  • Quicker return to everyday activities
  • Decreased need for further surgical procedures

Who is a candidate for motion-preserving spine surgery?

Artificial disc replacement is an excellent choice for many patients with degenerative disc disease. The latest clinical trial data underscores its superiority over fusion across various metrics: from alleviating neck and arm pain to enhancing neurologic outcomes and reducing the need for revision surgeries.

Take, for instance, a patient with a herniated cervical disk. The degenerated disk can be removed and replaced with a motion-preserving artificial disk. And, a patient with lumbar spinal arthritis who might traditionally be fused with screws and rods can now have better outcomes with a much less invasive procedure that does not involve implanting any instrumentation.

What’s involved in artificial disc replacement surgery, and what does recovery entail?

The techniques differ based on the patient’s condition, but as an example, the procedure to remove a cervical disc and replace it with an artificial one is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes just over an hour. Patients typically return home later that day with no bandages. They can gradually advance daily activities and usually return to work within two weeks, depending on the physical nature of their role. Patients usually leave a surgical follow-up appointment one month after the procedure with no further activity restrictions.

What advice do you give patients who might need spine surgery?

First off, only consider surgery after you have tried all reasonable non-operative treatments.

Then, select a neurosurgeon with specialized expertise in motion-preserving and minimally invasive surgery. While spinal fusion is frequently performed by neurosurgeons, expertise in motion-preserving spine surgery is more specialized and less widespread. Conduct thorough research and make sure you select an experienced neurosurgeon who can present you with the most suitable advanced treatment approach.

Once you select your physician, don’t start your treatment discussion by talking about traditional surgical options. Start by investigating minimally invasive and motion-preserving procedures. If you’re a candidate, it will be much easier for you … and you’ll have better outcomes.

If your spine condition is causing pain and lowering your quality of life, schedule a consultation. Our spine specialists will guide you in making an informed decision.



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