Magnificent Advances in Microscopic Back Surgery
New and better technology is changing how low back surgery is done. Improved surgical tools are being used with an operating microscope with good results during surgery for spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis in the low back is a narrowing in the opening where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal.

Surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves is one treatment option. Part of the bone on either side of the spinal column is removed. This is called a laminectomy. When both sides of the bone are cut out, the operation is called a bilateral laminectomy.

With this new equipment, doctors can do the operation on both sides with one incision. This is called a unilateral approach. The microscope goes into the back on one side of the spine and then can be angled to allow the surgeon to operate on the other side. The operation takes about 90 minutes and is done on an outpatient basis. This saves time and money. There isn't much blood loss, and there are very few problems after surgery.

Doctors prefer not to make more than one incision into the body during an operation. Combining a microscope with specialized surgical equipment, doctors can perform the same operation on both sides of the spine with one incision. This simplifies the laminectomy operation. The patient usually goes home the same day and gets quick pain relief with few problems.
Sylvain Palmer, MD, et al. Bilateral Decompression of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Involving a Unilateral Approach With Microscope and Tubular Retractor System. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. September 2002. Vol. 97. No. 2. Pp. 213-217.