What is the Difference Between Laser Surgery and Minimally Invasive Surgery?

As technology continues its exponential development, medical procedures have reaped the benefits. Surgical procedures are becoming less invasive, requiring less recovery time and imposing less risk to patients and practitioners alike.

Spinal surgical procedures are no different, also benefiting from recent developments. Minimally invasive spinal surgery takes advantage of technology in a couple of ways.

Robotic surgery uses computers and mechanics in combination. The surgeon controls robotic arms with precision using computer software to guide the arms during the procedure.

Minimally invasive surgical techniques

Three surgeons at work operating in surgical theatre. Resuscitation medicine team wearing protective masks saving patient. Surgery and emergency concept

Endoscopic surgery involves the surgeon employing a camera lodged inside a flexible tube. The tube is inserted into the body via an existing orifice like the nose or mouth or, in the case of spinal surgery, through a small incision into the body. The surgeon will watch the procedure on a computer monitor, but will use his or her experienced hands to perform the procedure.

When spinal surgeons use endoscopic surgery, they make two small incisions, one for the scope and another to allow the surgeon to work on the spine. The surgeon will move the muscles aside to reach the spine. The muscles won’t have to be sliced because of the surgery.

These minimally invasive procedures have several benefits for spinal surgery patients.

  • With both robotic and endoscopic surgery, patients will experience smaller incisions.
  • There will be less pain for patients upon awakening.
  • In the case of spinal surgery, older techniques often required a large incision held open by clamps. This increased the risk of infection. With minimally invasive surgery, there is much less worry of infection.
  • Hospital stays are shorter with minimally invasive procedures.
  • The smaller incision reduces recovery time for patients.
  • There is less blood loss during surgery.
  • The patient will experience reduced scarring post-surgery.

Laser surgery

When people hear the term “laser surgery,” it’s easy to think that laser surgery is a completely different kind of surgery than minimally invasive surgery. We associate lasers with high-tech, futuristic gadgets. However, in medicine, the future is now.

Lasers are a tool in surgery. Laser surgery simply notes that the surgeon is using lasers instead of the traditional scalpel. Lasers make the cuts by vaporizing soft tissue. With lasers, a surgeon can make small, precise cuts that heal easily. The surgeon will still have to make an incision into the body to insert the laser. Then the laser will cut away soft tissue. The spinal surgeon will still employ other surgical tools during the operation.

In spinal surgery, some physicians believe the laser helps them make more precise cuts than when using a scalpel. Some surgeons believe that the scalpel is the tool to use.

The difference between laser surgery and minimally invasive surgery

So then, laser surgery is a kind of minimally invasive surgery. Some surgeons will use a laser along with other techniques to deliver minimally invasive care to the patient. To the patient, it’s most important that the surgeon use minimally invasive techniques. It is up to the surgeon as to whether to use lasers or scalpels if they are skilled in using both. The goal is to create the best surgical experience for the patient using surgical techniques that produce the best outcome.

Skilled surgeons like those at the Colorado Brain and Spine Institute have the knowledge, skill and experience to determine what procedures are best for your medical issue. When surgery is on the table, trust us to provide the best available care; compassionate pre and post-surgery attention and precise, thorough care during the procedure.