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Neurosurgery / Spine Surgery Program

dr james lynch, surgery center of reno

New trends are continuing to develop within the field of medicine as physicians, consumers, managed care organizations and employers constantly strive to improve the quality of health care. Research has shown that complex problems related to heart, cancer, asthma, diabetes and spine are best treated successfully by centers of excellence. These entities direct a great deal of time and resources at solving these expensive health care problems. Spine care is one such area that has shown to benefit from a center of excellence approach. For example, instead of referring a back pain sufferer across town for diagnostic testing and physical therapy, a spine center of excellence consolidates all the patient’s needs under one roof. By combining multiple disciplines, the team concept can create a level of expertise previously unavailable. This specialized focus helps us to find the best possible treatment for the back or neck pain sufferer.

When spine surgery is the best course of action

At the best spine centers, surgery is typically a choice of last resort, after all nonsurgical methods have been exhausted, or when problems like severely herniated discs or damaged vertebrae simply will not respond to nonsurgical treatments.

In other cases, pain or numbness that radiates into a leg or arm can represent an emergency symptom that requires fast action to prevent permanent paralysis of the affected nerves. Any loss of control of bowel or bladder is a “red flag” symptom that requires immediate surgery to prevent permanent paralysis of these muscles and nerves.

spine surgery

When surgery is the right course of action, it is essential for you to play an active role in selecting the best spine surgeon. As with anything else, practice makes perfect. The more a person does something, the better they get at it. The ideal spine surgeon is one who is fellowship-trained, spine-specialized and proficient in minimally invasive techniques. Typically, most specialized spine surgeons perform more than 100 spine surgeries annually.

When surgery is the best option, it is essential to choose a surgeon who is spine-specialized and proficient in minimally invasive techniques. Some of the best spine surgeons in the Nevada region use Surgery Center of Reno as their preferred facility for spine surgery for their patients.

The spine surgeons from SpineNevada, for example, have multiple fellowships in spine (the highest level of medical training) and were the first in the region trained in artificial disc surgery. Surgery Center of Reno has other spine surgeons, including those from Sierra Neurosurgery Group and Advanced Neurosurgery, who use the facility for their spine patients. These spine surgeons routinely address a wide variety of surgical problems, from routine herniated discs, to complex fusions needing the most advanced instrumentation, artificial disc surgery and minimally invasive surgery.


The most beneficial advance in the area of spine surgery over the last five years is new instrumentation that enables some spine surgeons to remove herniated discs, and even install metal instrumentation like screws, through tiny inch-long incisions.

This advance — called “minimally invasive spine surgery” — is quickly replacing traditional spine surgery that requires a two to three-inch long incision in the back.

spine surgery

For example, in traditional spine surgery the surgeon may make a three-inch long incision, in which muscles and tissues are separated for optimal access to the injury site. Due to the resulting trauma to surrounding tissues and the amount of blood loss involved, a several-week recovery period may be required while the affected tissues and muscles heal.

Conversely, in minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon makes smaller incisions, sometimes only a one-half inch in length. Through these tiny incisions, the surgeon inserts special surgical instruments to access the damaged disc in the spine.

Case in point: About 200,000 Americans undergo spinal fusion surgery each year in order to relieve pain from serious degenerative disc disease. The latest advance for fusion surgery involves a special instrument which enters the incisions and allows the surgeon to insert rods and polyaxial screws with minimal tissue trauma. Other spine surgeries can also be done using BMP, a bone-growth stimulant which eliminates the need to harvest hip bone.

By using minimally invasive techniques, access and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues. Other benefits of minimally invasive techniques include shorter surgery duration and recovery time, smaller incisions, less visible scars, and reduced blood loss.

According to Dr. James Lynch of SpineNevada Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, a spine center that uses Surgery Center of Reno, minimally invasive spine surgery requires extensive training and experience to master use of the tools, but there is tremendous ambulatory surgery center reno, nevadabenefit for the patient. “The incision is shorter, which means you aren’t cutting through as much muscle and tissue to get access to the damaged area of the spine,” explains Dr. Lynch.


Minimally invasive techniques help patients recover faster

By using minimally invasive techniques, access and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues. Other benefits of minimally invasive techniques include shorter surgery duration and recovery time, smaller incisions, less visible scars, and reduced blood loss.

Another benefit of minimally invasive surgery is that spine surgery patients can have their surgery on an outpatient basis. Many of the spine surgeons using Surgery Center of Reno regularly perform minimally invasive spine surgery, enabling the patient to go home the same day. Recovery in one’s own home can be more comfortable than staying in a hospital bed.

The second benefit of Surgery Center of Reno over other surgery centers, is that Surgery Center of Reno is in close proximity to two major hospitals. If a patient were to develop complications during surgery, the patient is only seconds away from a major intensive care unit. Other off-site surgery centers would need an ambulance to transport the patient to a major hospital.

The latest spinal technology: ARTIFICIAL DISC

In October 2004, the FDA approved the lumbar artificial disc in the United States, which represents a significant advance in the field of spine. Artificial disc represents the best alternative yet for spinal fusion surgery. SpineNevada was the first spine center in the region to be trained and authorized to perform artificial disc surgery for both lumbar and cervical.

During a fusion procedure, the herniated disc is replaced with bone from a patient’s hip or bone from a bone bank. An artificial disc replacement, however, is designed to duplicate the function level of a normal, healthy disc, and retain motion in the spine. Fusions, in which bone is used to replace herniated discs in the spine, are viewed as less optimal surgeries because they lock two vertebrae in place, which restricts movement, and in turn can lead to herniation of additional discs.

The artificial disc is projected to have a dramatic impact on the field of spine, just as the introduction of the artificial knee and hip have had for people with badly damaged knee or hip joints.  Before the introduction of the artificial knee or hip, these joints often had to be fused. Thanks to the new artificial joint implants, thousands of people each year regain the ability to walk. Finally this new technology is being brought to the field of spine.

Over the next few years, new versions of cervical and lumbar artificial discs are likely to be released. The cervical disc in particular holds great promise since access to the neck area is easier, and there is less weight placed on the cervical disc than the lumbar disc.

If you have more questions about spine surgery, contact your spine surgeon’s office, or refer to the linked web sites in our site.

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