Most back and spine patients will not need surgery, in fact, Dr. Steven Fulop, a neurosurgeon at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne says just 10-percent of his patients require operations. While it used to be that back surgery was an option of last resort because outcomes were often poor, that’s not the case these days. He says advances in technology, hardware and surgical equipment have improved procedures and led to better outcomes for patients.
Dr. Fulop says that a device which works similar to the GPS in your car is making spinal surgery more precise for surgeons. The technology allows doctors to make a small incision, but still see what’s happening and where instruments are placed inside the body. He says when physicians are able to make smaller, more precise entries, healing time is faster and the chances of infection are smaller.
The materials used to make repairs during surgery have also improved in recent years. It used to be that metals needed to brace the spine would be a problem if a patient needed an MRI, but that’s no longer the case. He says titanium is now used, it’s lightweight but strong and doesn’t react with the body. He says it also doesn’t attract the magnet in an MRI, so that diagnostic tool is still an option for those men and women. He adds that plastic is also becoming a staple in the operating room, in part, because of the increased use of 3-D printers.