Saint Luke's at Forefront of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

Feb 05, 2013, 13:39 ET from Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute

Neurosurgeon utilizes latest technology for spinal surgery to improve accuracy and reduce stress to the body with shorter recovery times

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For many years spinal surgery meant large incisions and lengthy surgeries, hospital stays and recovery times. The advent of minimally invasive spine techniques and corresponding technologies has changed all that.   

H. Dennis Mollman, M.D., Ph.D., at Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute in Kansas City, Mo., is at the forefront of minimally invasive spine surgery in the Midwest and discusses who is the ideal candidate for this type of procedure.

"Over 80 percent of spine disease is not surgical," says Mollman. "Therefore it is critical for the patient to be fully and properly evaluated by a trained spinal surgeon before determining the best course of treatment.  Back pain does not automatically warrant surgery. In fact, in most cases it does not. The most likely candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery are patients with either a pinched or ruptured nerve or slipped disc or ones with a bone malalignment."

Patients who do meet surgical criteria are often able to undergo outpatient surgery.  A minimally invasive spine surgeon will be able to make an incision of less than one inch, navigate through rather than cut the muscle, and complete most procedures in 30-45 minutes. Following several hours of recovery, the patient is usually able to go home and be back at work the next day. Patients requiring surgical fusion typically stay in the hospital for three days and are able to return to work after six weeks to three months depending on the physical demands of the job and the rehabilitation required.

Mollman explains one of the key benefits to minimally invasive techniques is the reduction of surgical stress on the patient and potential complications. 

"Anytime you cut and damage tissue, regardless of what part of the body you are operating on, you release proteins which can cause problems with the lungs, liver, and kidneys. The less invasive you are, the less chance you have of involving those complications."

Mollman cautions patients to do their homework before selecting a surgeon: "There are unfortunately physicians who claim to be performing minimally invasive techniques but in fact are not. They are still making incisions down the middle of the back, cutting muscle, and using small retractors. That is not minimally invasive spine. Patients need to ask if their doctor is a spine specialist? How many minimally invasive spine surgeries have they done? And how do they define 'minimally invasive'? Are they using computer-guided imagery and navigation? These are all key questions to selecting the most qualified surgeon and ensuring they are receiving the best treatment and care."

More information about Dr. Mollman and Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute's Minimally Invasive Spine program can be found at and

About the Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute

Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute, a member of Saint Luke's Health System, is a global leader in utilizing both drug and mechanical interventions to block and reverse the permanent and debilitating effects of ischemic strokes. Its legacy of innovation began in 1993 when doctors performed one of the world's first intra-arterial stroke reversal procedures. Since then, Saint Luke's specialists have continued to pioneer new stroke treatments and reverse stroke's debilitating effects for thousands of patients, and is one of the world's most experienced and prolific leaders in the use of Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA), a clot-busting medication for treatment of  ischemic stroke. SLNI, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, brings together a team of the country's most accomplished neurologists to provide a comprehensive treatment center for the most complex neurological issues, such as stroke, epilepsy, brain tumors, facial pain, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, headaches, aneurysms, and the latest in minimally invasive spinal surgical techniques. SLNI's advancements in neurology have made it a national leader in neurological treatment and care.

SOURCE Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute