Patients can Benefit from Newer Spine Surgery Techniques

April 03, 2014

There are many ways to treat back problems, and when surgery is the right option, it’s good to know that advanced solutions and expertise are available.

At Providence Tarzana Medical Center, a wide range of spine surgeries are performed. These procedures include discectomies (removing a herniated disc) and fusions (fusing together the bones in the back to reduce pain), using minimally invasive techniques.

“Studies have shown there’s usually less blood loss, a lower rate of infection and shorter hospital stays,” says Brian Gantwerker, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. “Our neurosurgery team is doing some great work, getting people up and walking faster and back to their families sooner. What’s more, those surgeries performed with minimally invasive techniques require smaller incisions—which means smaller scars.”

At Providence Tarzana Medical Center, physicians perform a technique known as extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF).

“It is one of our best advancements in spine surgery for someone who needs multilevel procedures [which refers to the number of spinal lumbar that are fused] up to five or six levels of intervention and also works for someone who needs just one level of intervention,” says Greg Khounganian, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon at Providence Tarzana. “And it often can be used for people who have had traditional spine surgeries in the past and need to have their surgery redone, for any reason.”

Patients should look for a spine surgeon who has advanced training in the new technology and is skilled in its use. “The amount of training is pretty specific. These new techniques should be performed by someone who has a lot of experience seeing it, doing it and teaching it,” Dr. Khounganian says.