3 Changing Trends in Spine Care

The spine is a complex structure, so it’s no surprise that the evaluation and treatment of your spinal structures is ever-changing. From new ways to diagnose to revolutionary new treatments, spine care is always evolving. Today, we’re going to look at three newer trends in how neurosurgeons are taking care of their patients with spine pain.

Evolving Spine Care Trends

Here’s what in the news in spine care in 2016:

1. Smaller Isn’t Always Better – Television screens continue to get bigger, but surgical techniques are always pushing to be less invasive and less taxing on the patient. Minimally invasive operations are great because they reduce the likelihood of some surgical complications and offer the patient a quicker recovery time, but that doesn’t mean it is always the best route to pursue. When you’re dealing with an injury like an ACL tear, a minimally invasive repair will be the best option the vast majority of the time, but the back is much more complex, and if there’s a major issue like a deep spine curvature or spinal tumor that needs to be removed, doctors may suggest an open operation to better access the site and stabilize the spine. Most operations are getting smaller, but open operations are still necessary in many spine surgeries.

2. That Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Exploring New Options – A group of researchers recently shared some interesting findings at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. They have developed a device that they hope will revolutionize spinal stabilization, especially after spinal tumor surgery. Since that operation usually involves either a daunting open operation or an expensive minimally invasive operation (due to the implementation of titanium rods), researchers have been working to find a cheaper, minimally invasive option. The device they developed works similar to a sponge. Your know how a dry sponge expands when you put it in water? They used a similar concept to develop a stabilization device in the spine. In essence, they’ve developed a small capsule that can be inserted through a minimally invasive procedure to the site of a tumor removal. Once in place, the capsule is exposed to fluids inside the body, and it expands into the necessary crevices, solidifies and provides stabilization. Although still in its infancy, researchers hope to have these growable grafts in clinical trials within three years.

3. Risk Stratification is Key – Lastly, spine surgeons are getting better at identifying all sorts of underlying risks and evaluating patients to ensure they are fitted with the best treatment strategy. This is known as risk stratification, and it is used to determine which patients may respond best to one surgery and which patients may not be a good candidate for an operation by looking at a variety of factors. Doctors look at:

By evaluating all of the above options, doctors can ensure their patient gets the best treatment with the highest likelihood of success, and complication risks and healthcare costs are decreased. Nothing adds to a hospital bill like a failed surgery or re-admission, so analyzing every available bit of information and exploring newest techniques helps give the patient the best chance for success.

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