Eight out of 10 Americans experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives. In the past, surgical treatments for spine conditions were often as much a source of fear and pain as the conditions themselves. Minimally invasive spine surgery has changed this forever.
At the Center for Neurosurgery at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, our expert neurosurgeons can help you determine whether spine surgery is right for you. They offer a range of minimally invasive surgery options for issues such as neck and lower back pain, and symptoms related to pinched nerves such as limb numbness, weakness, or shooting pain.
“Many people think spine surgery is a serious and complex procedure,” says Hatem Abdo, MD, director of Neurosurgical Services at MedStar Franklin Square. “That is understandable. But the minimally invasive approaches available today have completely transformed the impact and outcomes of spine surgery. We use cutting-edge technology to treat everything from chronic neck and back pain to some of the most complex diseases of the central nervous system, including stroke, aneurysms, and brain tumors.”
Louis Chang, MD, chief of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at MedStar Franklin Square, notes that one of the greatest benefits of this approach is surgical precision. “Minimally invasive surgery allows us to achieve the goals of traditional open spine surgery while limiting the impact on surrounding areas of a patient’s body. This generally results in reduced blood loss and infection rates, an earlier return to normal activities, and potentially minimizes future disease.”
One patient who is glad she finally opened her mind to surgery is Donna Chriscoe Artis. Her back pain was so bad, the once active, life-of-the-party person found herself staying home, parked on the couch, with pain medication no more than a hand’s reach away. “I didn’t want to live like that,” Artis says. “But what I knew for sure was there was absolutely no way I washaving back surgery.”
Then, a visit by her brother made her realize she could not put off the inevitable. “He saw me stooped over in pain and he actually cried,” she says. “He couldn’t believe that the sister who was once a runner and ‘the dancing queen’ could hardly stand. My pain had taken all of that away.”
Artis scheduled an appointment with Dr. Abdo armed with a ton of research she had printed out and a list of questions. Dr. Abdo notes that many patients become open to the idea of surgery once they fully understand how their problems can be fixed using a minimally invasive approach. “Education is important. It’s always a big decision. But once the patient appreciates how much safer minimally invasive surgery is, and how much better their life can be, they feel relieved. And they are usually a bit more accepting and willing to consider surgery.”
On July 3, 2017, Artis had minimally invasive spine surgery at MedStar Franklin Square. The procedure, performed by Dr. Abdo, involved replacing three discs and inserting rods and screws to stabilize her spinal cord. Now that she has recovered, she says the decision she once thought she would never be convinced to make—to have surgery—was the best one of her life.
“I’m exercising, shopping, dancing … and I am doing it without pain,” Artis says. “For so long, I was living a sedentary lifestyle and making excuses for why I couldn’t do things. I forgot life could be this good.” “Minimally invasive spine surgery comes with greatly reduced risks,” Dr. Abdo explains. “The procedure that used to take six or seven hours to perform now takes three. Before, patients would remain in the hospital for a week after surgery and might be out of work for several weeks. Now, many go home the next day and some even the same day of surgery. Minimally invasive surgery changes everything.”
For Lori Rollins, whose MRI showed she was suffering from spinal stenosis, a pinched nerve, and a slipped disc in her spinal cord, minimally invasive surgery made perfect sense. “Lori had pursued more conservative pain management therapies for a long time,” says Dr. Chang. “She had tried physical therapy and epidural shots, but they weren’t working. I was confident that surgery would greatly reduce her pain and improve her quality of life.”
Eager to pick up and play with her grandchildren and eliminate the constant pinching, pressure, and numbing sensations she lived with every day, Rollins decided to forge ahead with surgery. She underwent minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery with Dr. Chang at MedStar Franklin Square, and within 24 hours of coming out of the operating room, knew she’d made the right decision.
“I stretched out my leg and felt no pain,” Rollins recalls. “I know it sounds simple, but I was completely ecstatic.”And that feeling has continued, along with her recovery. Today, Rollins is the grandmother she always wanted to be; pushing the grandkids on swings, catching them at the bottom of slides, and getting and giving lots of hugs, all without pain. “My entire outlook on life has changed,” Rollins notes. “Dr. Chang deserves all the credit in the world. He did a great job and it’s made me a new person.”
“Since minimally invasive spine surgery encompasses many techniques and approaches, it is important for patients to speak with a spine surgeon who is dedicated to and proficient with all of these procedures to determine not only if it is right for them but, also, what kind of approach would be best given their unique needs,” Dr. Chang adds.
To schedule an appointment, please call 410-391-6904.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Rosedale, MD 21237
The neurosurgeons at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center are also specialists in microscopic surgery, which combines minimally invasive techniques with highly sensitive, cutting-edge surgical microscopes to access even the most delicate areas of the body with precision.
Minimally invasive techniques offer patients: