After years of helping people around southeast Louisiana, we have gathered a list of questions we get most often both before and after spine surgery. If you have any other concerns, feel free to call our clinic during regular business hours at (985) 400-5778.

 

When should I consider surgery?

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Surgery should always be the last resort. However, if non-operative treatments have been attempted without improvement or worsening over a 6-12 month period, then surgical treatment may be a reasonable option.

Does spine surgery really work?

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Yes, surgery can work beautifully. You may have heard the rumor “no one ever gets better after spine surgery—especially fusions.” DISC of Louisiana has seen a lot of success with various treatments. Our operations are planned to fit each patient’s best interests and needs. Our surgeons are some of the best in the area and are trained to know which treatment will give you the best outcome possible. During your appointment, Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James will walk you through the benefits and the risks your surgery could have and is willing to answer any specific questions.

What is laser spine surgery?

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The use of a laser during spine surgery will not guarantee a great outcome. There is no scientific evidence showing the use of a laser having any effect on the outcome of a procedure. Insurance doesn’t typically cover this kind of treatment. On the other hand, studies show a great amount of success using minimally invasive procedures using traditional approaches will help you, and your wallet, more.

When would I need a disc fusion?

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It depends on a specific patient’s anatomy and pathology. In general, we try to exhaust every non-surgical treatment possible before considering a surgery. A fusion would be recommended to prevent the instability or slipping of one vertebra onto another. When our surgeons look at your case, they can see if your spine is at risk, and could recommend a fusion of the spine to prevent those problems from occurring.

Is a disc replacement right for me?

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A disc replacement procedure is a fusion. We have been involved in many FDA investigational studies that have brought disc replacement devices to market under FDA approval. Disc replacements can offer a great alternative to fusion for many New Orleans spine surgery patients.

How long will I be in the hospital?

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In general, minimally invasive spine surgery patients spend much less time in the hospital because most patients feel less pain following a MIS surgery. Usually discectomy or laminectomy patients are able to return home the same day of surgery. For various types of lumbar fusion surgery, the patient typically goes home in 1 or 2 days. A traditional method with longer incisions calls for 5 to 7 days in the hospital.

Will I be able to bend over if I have a fusion?

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It will vary based on each patient. Most motion occurs in the hip joints, so if you have moderately normal hip motion, you should be able to maintain the ability to pick up objects. You may lose some rotational motion in the lumbar spine, but that hip and pelvis interaction should allow you to still bend over. Results vary based on each patient’s anatomy and age. The natural aging process will reduce the motion of the lumbar and cervical spine slowly over time. Scoliosis patients with long fusions from the pelvis to the neck can sometimes bend over and touch the floor without difficulty if they maintain hip motion and muscle flexibility.

Am I a candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

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The field of minimally invasive spine surgery continues to grow. Most surgeries today can be treated with some aspect of minimally invasive surgery. The best options should be individualized to the patient’s diagnosis and overall patient condition. At DISC of Louisiana, we perform both minimally invasive spine surgery as well as open-surgery, giving us the ability to choose the type of treatment that is best suited for each individual patient.

When can I go back to work?

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There is no set time on when you could return to work after surgery. It will depend on your treatment and occupation. For instance: a patient working in an office could likely return to work part-time after a minimally invasive discectomy within two weeks. A larger surgery could mean a 4- to 6-week recovery period. Typically, minimally invasive spine surgery patients return to work much faster than patients with standard open surgeries. Again, the specific amount of down time would vary for each patient.

How does Minimally Invasive Surgery compare to traditional “open surgery”?

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Minimally invasive spine surgery patients usually feel less pain and recover faster. However, minimally invasive techniques are highly technical and require significant training. There are very few spine surgeons in the New Orleans area who perform minimally invasive spine surgery. A lack of training can lead to complications, including inadequate decompression, nerve injury, infection or persistent pain. The same risks are involved for traditional open surgeries. Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James are well-trained in MIS and have seen great results for their patients. Through their extensive training, both Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James passed the learning curve for MIS. Hear from other patients by clicking here.

Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery experimental?

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No. MIS has been used successfully for many years. Every year, technological advances allow us to perform more complex procedures through smaller incisions.  Long-term data shows minimally invasive techniques have an advantage over traditional open surgery. 

Why aren’t more hospitals and surgeons performing MIS?

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Minimally invasive surgery is highly technical. This requires significant training for the surgeons and the rest of the operating room staff. Many surgeons may not have been through the training Dr. Shamieh and Dr. James have been through. The equipment needed to perform the procedures safely and effectively are also expensive, and some hospitals may not have the resources to accommodate this kind of treatment.