Laser Spine Surgery VS. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Laser Spine Surgery is an industry buzz word that many doctors are heralding as the holy grail of spine surgery. This hype has created several misconceptions about what laser spine surgery actually is. Some people hear laser spine surgery and envision Star Trek or Star Wars type lasers lighting up a room and miraculously healing their backs. While others hear the word laser and think that anything that is laser guided has to be more accurate. To clear up the confusion, the team at The Spine Center of Texas is going to bring some clarity to this discussion and help you decide what the best option is for you if you find that you need surgery.

What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is designed to cause the least amount of trauma possible to the patient. a skilled surgeon will make a small incision with a scalpel. Using a surgical endoscope the physician will view the damaged area of the spine.  The tools involved in a minimally invasive spine surgery are designed to make as small an incision as possible. This means less pain, less blood loss, and much faster healing time.

Once the small incision is created and the target area is identified, the surgeon will  insert the tools necessary to complete the surgery into the patient while trying to avoid cutting or damaging the muscle. Minimizing trauma to the muscle is key to a quick recovery and why minimally invasive back surgery is so much less painful than traditional open back surgery techniques.

What is Laser Spine Surgery?

Laser Spine Surgery is not what it sounds like. In fact most of the steps involved in laser spine surgery are identical to minimally invasive surgery. The two main differences are that the incision is made with a laser instead of a scalpel, and that the laser is also used to remove the soft tissue that needs to be extracted. This may sound more efficient but the laser does have limitations to what it can do. These limitations increase the patients risk of unintended consequence.

Risk 1 — A laser does not bend. This means that cuts and soft tissue removal can only happen in a straight line. With minimally invasive surgery, a skilled back surgeon can maneuver around bone to get at the necessary soft tissue without disturbing muscle and other parts of the back that are not damaged.

Risk 2 — Lasers are hot, Prolonged exposure to a laser can cause the areas around the laser to heat up. This can, in some cases, lead to nerve damage. There have even been reports of loss of feeling and use of limbs .


While lasers are great medical tools for other types of surgeries and procedures, The Spine Center of Texas feels that the techniques involved in performing minimally invasive spine surgery is much safer and accurate than laser spine surgery at providing relief and function to our patients. As a full service back center we always view surgery as a last resort, but if you feel back pain or think you may need back surgery, contact us today for a free consultation at either our New Bruanfels or Seguin locations.