Eight out of ten adults in the United States will have an episode of low back pain at some point in their lives.
Lower back pain is one of the most widespread and costly health problems in the Western world. In fact, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study in 2010, lower back pain produces greater global disability than any other condition.
No one knows this better than Ken Hayes. He had chronic pain in his leg and couldn’t walk, exercise or perform daily activities without extreme pain.
All that changed when Ken turned to Stephen R. Goll, M.D., a board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon at Orlando Orthopaedic Center. “I had minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery about a month ago,” says Ken. “I was immediately amazed at the results.”
After undergoing a thorough physical examination, MRI and consultation, Ken was diagnosed with a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease with neural foraminal stenosis and segmental instability, all in the same area of his lumbar spine.
After nonsurgical treatments proved unsuccessful in diminishing his pain, Ken and Dr. Goll decided that the best course of action was to undergo minimally invasive lumbar decompression and interbody fusion surgery.
“One thing that really impressed me with Dr. Goll is he’s willing to talk to you directly,” says Ken. “Most doctors sit you down and lecture you. But he actually listens to you. He’ll say ‘this is what we talked about, this is what’s going to happen, do you have any questions?’”
Empowered by his consultation and decision-making experience with Dr. Goll, Ken passed through surgery with flying colors. “Even in the hospital I was able to go home within 24 hours, which was just wonderful,” says Ken. “And I’ve been doing nothing but feeling improvement ever since. I’m getting stronger, I’ve lost weight, I’m getting around better.”
What is Minimally Invasive Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery?
Spine fusion surgery has been conventionally performed as open surgery, with a longer incision used to enable the surgeon to see the spinal column. However, technological advances in recent years have allowed lumbar fusion to progress dramatically, now using specially designed instruments, the orthopaedic spine surgeon will operate through small tubes through minimally invasive incisions. This new fusion process allows for better fusion rates, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery times.
Minimally invasive interbody fusion surgery avoids the use of long incision grooves and permits the surgeon to access the spine using smaller incisions. Rods, screws, a specially designed spacer and a bone graft is implanted into the space between the affected vertebrae, allowing the bones to grow and fuse together over time.
The minimally invasive procedure circumvents significant injury and trauma to the soft tissues around the spine, produces less scarring, and decreased discomfort after surgery.
“I’m walking now,” says Ken. “I couldn’t before. I had terrible pain in my leg and it’s completely gone now. I have a little bit of numbness left but I hear that’s going to fade, so that’s great.”
Recovering from Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion Surgery
Having an experienced, competent and caring medical team is a vital component in any patient’s journey to recovery.
“I found that not only Dr. Goll and his staff but the hospital in general, everybody had a level of professionalism that you rarely see these days,” says Ken. “The doctor was good at explaining how minimally invasive it was, exactly what he was going to do, and what kind of fusion it was going to be. It put my fears to rest. Until I got up that next morning, I was still worried. But as soon as I stood up, I thought alright, this is great.”
Ken was also impressed with Dr. Goll’s interpersonal skills. “He’s looking at you when you talk to him,” says Ken. “Most doctors are busy taking their notes ‘what about this, what about that?’ but Dr. Goll has a really good manner, and I’m really pleased with him.”
With the success of his lumbar fusion surgery, Ken hopes others can reap the same benefits that he has.
“I’m just having a great experience and I hope other people can experience the same thing because it’s just been a blessing to me, it really has.”
By Corey Gehrold