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How Spine Surgery Has Changed Over the Years

How Spine Surgery Has Changed Over the Years

The first evidence of back surgery was found in Egyptian mummies dating back to 3,000 B.C., and Hippocrates described spine issues, including sciatica and scoliosis, more than two millennia after that. There’s a long history of medical knowledge about the spine. 

As medical science advanced, we learned more about how the spine and spinal cord interacted, and laminectomy became feasible, if not yet very practical. This surgery involved removing parts of vertebrae to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. Beginning in the early 1800s, it was the only spine surgery performed until the next century. 

In those days, spine surgery was unreliable and had high rates of complication and mortality. Today, you can expect much better results with short recovery times when you choose Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center, specialists in robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques, in the rare cases where nonsurgical methods don’t resolve your spine issues. 

The 20th Century

In the first half of the 1900s, spinal fusion and discectomy were added to the spine surgery repertoire. Spinal fusion made it possible to correct the characteristic spinal curve of scoliosis, common with spinal tuberculosis patients, while discectomy removed defective intervertebral discs to ease pressure on nerves. 

The development of penicillin in 1928 and other effective antibiotics made all types of surgery more reliable, since there was now a way to easily control the infections that typically accompany any type of open surgery. In the last quarter of the century, endoscopic techniques, requiring smaller, less invasive incisions, meant that spine surgery could be more precise, with less impact on surrounding tissue, making recovery easier on the patient. 

The arrival of MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging, the MRI, meant better diagnostics before incisions, further refining the precision of spine surgery. Along with improvements to endoscopic procedures, open surgeries became less common. Spine surgery meant hospital stays lasting several days after a procedure in the 1980s and 90s, while today, many procedures are done on an outpatient basis, where you sleep at home the same day as your surgery. 

While the MRI improved on conventional X-ray as a surgical imaging tool, these aren’t the only technological upgrades the neurosurgeon uses. “Live action” X-ray, called fluoroscopy, gives your surgeon a real-time view inside your body, allowing for pinpoint localization of anatomy during a procedure. Cameras are smaller, so live video through keyhole incisions is another way your surgeon “sees.” 

CT scanning

Computerized tomography (CT) scanning creates 3-D models of your spine long before you have an incision. Measurements are so accurate that your entire surgery can be planned in every detail before it happens, even to the point of measuring the tiny plates and screws needed to stabilize bone during your procedure. 

Robotically assisted surgery

The advantages of endoscopic surgery were always limited by the abilities of the human hand. Robotic surgical systems have articulations and levels of precision that simply can’t be matched with manual manipulation. These refinements mean improved results with even greater patient safety. 

When you require spine surgery, contact Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Phoenix. Call the office at 602-536-5019 to book your initial consultation. 

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If you're looking for a neurosurgeon in the Phoenix area, contact Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center for the ultimate neurological care.