Scar Tissue – Benefits and Types of Arthroscopic Laser Treatment
The scar tissue that develops after an injury or surgery to the spine can lead to pain after six to twelve weeks. The scar tissue itself is not painful, as it does not contain nerve endings. However, when scar tissue begins to tether, the pain happens when a patient’s movement goes past the range of motion, which is limited due to this tethered area.
The best option is to try and prevent or limit scar tissue. Scar tissue is increased with traditional and more invasive back surgery. In the past, patients only had the option of large and invasive incisions that would leave the patient hospitalized with an extensive rehabilitation and long and painful recuperation.
Since the early 1970s, the option of Arthroscopic Laser Treatment became available for knee and shoulder surgery. Doctors have applied this technology for the surgical treatment of spinal disorders and injuries. This is a minimally invasive procedure that does not cause as much damage to the tissue as a traditional back surgery.
The Basic Arthroscopic Procedure
A surgeon will insert a small tube through a tiny incision. They will then insert a series of larger tubes placed one at a time over the first tube. This technique will slowly and gently dilate the skin and muscle tissue without tearing or cutting. The very last tube is about 18 millimeters, which is about the size of a pencil. After the final tube is placed, the other tubes are then removed. With the help of a fiber optic camera, lasers, and suction, and other microscopic surgical instruments, the surgeon operates through the final tube.
Benefits of Arthroscopic Laser Treatment
Because this is a minimally invasive surgery, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. General anesthesia is not used in this procedure; therefore, there are automatically less risks. Only a local anesthetic will be used.
The endoscopic tubes used in this procedure will minimize the muscle and other soft tissue damage. This will reduce the amount of scar tissue that could form. Other benefits include: less bleeding, reduced postoperative discomfort, fewer and small incisions, and faster recovery.
Four Types of Arthroscopic Procedures
There are 4 primary Arthroscopic procedures that can be performed on the spine. It will depend on the patient’s diagnosis, as to which procedure will benefit the patient. There are times that a patient may need more than one procedure during a single surgery.
This procedure helps to relieve symptoms that are caused by nerve root compression. Foramen is a passageway between the vertebrae, where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal. This procedure is generally performed for patients diagnosed with foraminal stenosis, bulging or herniated discs, pinched nerves, scar tissue formation, bone spurs, spinal arthritis, or sciatica.
A surgeon will remove bone and tissue compressing the spinal nerve root by inserting the endoscope slowly. This will allow the muscles and other soft tissue to move back into their original place.
This procedure is chosen when space around the nerve roots needs to be increased around the nerve roots and spinal cord. It helps to remove pressure from these neural tissues in the lamina, which is the bony plate covering each vertebrae’s posterior arch. For more detailed information, see article, “Scar Tissue – A Closer Look at Laminotomy (Surgical Removal Procedure).”
This procedure is similar to a Laminotomy; however, a Laminectomy is generally performed during a traditional open back surgery to remove the entire lamina. A Laminotomy will not remove the entire lamina. It will only remove a portion.
Percutaneous Arthroscopic Discectomy
This procedure is the surgical removal of a bulging or herniated disc material. They are the common cause of nerve root and spinal cord compression. This is a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon will use a laser to vaporize disc material, which will reduce pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Upon completion of the procedure, the endoscopic tube is removed slowly so the muscles and soft tissues can move back into space, minimizing the risk for scar tissue.
Laser treatment is the best way to prevent or decrease the risk of scar tissue.