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Minimally Invasive Surgery

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About Minimally Invasive Surgery | Benefits | Minimal Access Spinal Technologies | Bone Graft Substitutes

The physicians at Kenai Spine stand at the forefront of minimally invasive surgical treatment. They can diagnose and treat many types of bone and joint problems using these highly advanced techniques. Use of minimally invasive surgical techniques decrease the recovery time of many patients because the surgical incisions are considerably smaller than conventional surgery and therefore less damaging to the other vital soft tissue spine center, dr craig humphreys treatment for back pain neck pain kenai alaskastructures.

This form of surgery is proving to be particularly successful in joint replacement for arthritis as well as reconstruction of fractures and bones and realignment of extremities. In addition, these new techniques allow indirect fracture reduction and fixation, with less likelihood of injury to blood flow to vital structures and less harm to blood vessels and nerves. It is important to note that the technology used to perform minimally invasive orthopedic procedures has undergone significant advances in recent years and the surgeons at Kenai Spine are continuing to improve and refine ways to make surgeries even less invasive.

Several weeks of recovery may be required for traditional “open” spine surgery as it may involve a three-inch long incision, in which muscles and tissues are separated for optimal access to the injury site. The surgery usually results in trauma to surrounding tissues and some blood loss. Because of this the affected tissues and muscles need adequate healing time.

Spine surgery then home, same day

Kenai Spine uses state of the art minimally invasive techniques and instrumentation to help patients recover in a shorter period of time and allow for a quicker return home. Innovative developments in minimally invasive techniques have pioneered better ways for the surgeon to access the spine, moreover making the recovery process more seamless.

In minimally invasive spine surgery, a smaller incision is made, sometimes only a half-inch in length. The surgeon inserts special surgical instruments through these tiny incisions to access the damaged disc in the spine. Entry and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues when using minimally invasive techniques.

Minimally invasive spine surgery requires extensive training and experience to master use of the tools, but there is tremendous benefit for the patient.

Benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Smaller incision and smaller scar
  • Less damage to tissues and muscles
  • Less blood loss
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less painful recovery
  • Quicker return to activity

Unlike many other spine care providers, the spine patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery at Kenai Spine can often have their surgery on an outpatient basis and be home later the same day. Recovery in one’s own home can be more comfortable than staying in a hospital bed.

Minimal Access Spinal Technologies (MAST)

With the introduction of minimal access spinal technologies (MAST), spine surgeons can make a smaller incision, while at the same time accomplish identical results as open spine surgery. Due to the acute accuracy provided by these tools, surgeons can access the vertebrae through the narrow probes with surgical cameras and tools.

Bone Graft Substitutes: When a fusion is necessary

When damaged disc tissue is removed during spine surgery, the surgeon may need to perform a bone fusion to stabilize the vertebra as well as maintain the disc space between the vertebral bones, which in turn provides room for the nerve roots.

To perform a fusion, the surgeon may harvest a piece of bone from the patient’s pelvis. Unfortunately, this process may cause additional pain and discomfort that may actually be worse than the spine surgery itself.

Other options include using bone from a bone bank, which was harvested from a cadaver and carefully sanitized, or using new man-made bone graft substitutes. Bone graft substitutes have the necessary proteins for healthy bone to heal and regenerate. Consequently, these new man-made bone graft substitutes can be used instead of having to harvest bone from a patient’s hip or from a cadaver. This bone graft is made from pure bone protein (minerals and collagen) and an absorbable collagen sponge that promotes new bone formation where it is needed.

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Patient Success Stories
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Surgery repairs damaged disc and returns outdoorsman to activity.

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Paramedic gets back to life with Kenai Spine.

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Healthcare CEO back on the job after pain relieving spine surgery.

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School administrator recovers from back pain without surgery.

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Dog sled champion back on the trails after non-surgical treatment.

Educational Resources
Medical Animations

Watch various medical animations to learn about conditions and treatment options.

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View medical illustrations that help you understand pain symptoms.

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Learn about special exercises and stretches that can relieve pain and help rehab muscles and joints.

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Learn about minimally invasive surgery techniques that enable patients to go home the same day.

Where to find us

Kenai Spine is proud to announce that we have moved into our new spine center at 240 Hospital Place, Suite 103, in Soldotna, Alaska. Over the past few years, Kenai Spine has become a referral center for those with back and neck pain with patients coming from as far away as Anchorage, Fairbanks and Seward. Click here for driving directions.

Physician Bios
Medical Animations

S. Craig Humphreys, MD
Fellowship-trained spine surgeon
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon

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Mark Simonson, MD
Board Certified in PM&R
Board Certified in Pain Medicine