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Minimally invasive surgery is not new to the spinal surgery realm, yet many South Jersey residents are unaware of the advanced, cutting-edge services integrated into the comprehensive health system at Inspira. Inspira is committed to providing the high-quality health services our South Jersey residents need, close to home. And now, we are committed to continuing to reach our patients in new, innovative ways—starting with changing the conversation around minimally invasive spine surgery.
Understanding the Minimally Invasive Difference
The advantage of minimally invasive surgery is simple: smaller incisions that allow for less destruction to normal tissues.
“If we look at conventional lumbar surgery, we make an incision down the middle of the back, separate or strip all of the muscle off of the spinal column, and open the spinal column to take the pressure off the nerves,” said Richard C. Strauss, M.D., a neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at Inspira Medical Group Neurosurgery of Vineland. “With minimally invasive spine surgery, we make a small incision and work through the muscles, sparing the tissue.”
Minimally invasive spine surgery is associated with a decrease in postoperative infections. In conventional surgery, the cavity created by the large muscle dissection can fill with fluid and blood. This promotes the growth of bacteria, causing infection. The smaller incisions and dissections associated with minimally invasive techniques reduce infections and allow patients to recover faster and feel less pain.
“The only potential downside to minimally invasive surgery is it takes longer. Because you are working through such a small corridor, it takes more time to complete the procedure” said Dr. Strauss. “But my main concern is the quality of the work and the outcome. If that means I do fewer cases in a day, so be it. What’s important is that there are techniques available for achieving better outcomes for our patients.”
Inspira’s minimally invasive spinal surgeries include, but are not limited to:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and cervical disc replacement
- Cervical and lumbar laminectomy
- Lumbar discectomy
- Sacroiliac joint fusion
- Cervical and lumbar spine fusion, including instrumentation
“One of the biggest advancements in minimally invasive technology at Inspira is our image guidance system, our GPS system for the body, if you will. If we have a patient with a brain tumor, we no longer need to make an incision based on our knowledge of anatomy. Now, we scan the body, upload the image into the navigational system and create an accurate incision directly over the tumor thanks to this robotic technology,” said R.J. Meagher, M.D., neurosurgeon with Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill. “Inspira is always looking for the next best thing. And now, it’s time patients know that neurosurgery is an accessible option.”
Communicating the Inspira Difference
At Inspira, patients can feel confident knowing they will never be triaged by a “gatekeeper”. Patients will speak directly with their surgeon about their condition and treatment options.
“I take pride in the fact that I am involved in every step of my patients’ care from day one. I assess my patients, examine them, review their MRIs and perform their surgeries. There is no room for miscommunication because the channels we’ve built are centered around the patient,” said Dr. Strauss.
Adding to his philosophy of care, he believes not every patient with back pain needs to see a surgeon first. Specifically, Dr. Strauss recommends a trial of conservative treatment with a pain management specialist or physical therapist prior to considering surgery. Patients should also have appropriate imaging, such as MRI, before being referred to a surgeon to avoid higher co-payments and extra office visits.
Patients and providers should know the spinal column may be made of bone, but most of the problems requiring surgery arise from the nerves within it. Neurosurgeons are trained in the delicate surgery necessary for patients struggling with spinal pain. “We take our South Jersey residents and return them to an improved quality of life on a daily basis,” said Dr. Strauss.