Laser spine surgery is touted by some doctor's as the new savior for people with back problems. Hulk Hogan recently brought a lawsuit against the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa Florida for $50,000 million dollars in damages. Is Hulk (Terri Bolea ) crying wolf, or is this procedure just another medical money maker with no real relief.
A prominent medial group in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Mayfield Institute, appears to agree that laser spine surgery is not a recommended treatment for back injury. ( Source ) Other sources also criticize this procedure. (Citations below)
What is Laser Spine Surgery
I went to the web site of the laser spine institute and there was some information explaining the procedure. Although there are many minimally invasive back surgeries done through a small tube (endoscopic procedure) the distinguising fact in laser spine surgery is the use of a laser. Here is a description from the laser spine institute ( where Hogan was treated) of a discectomy with the use of a laser.
"When a percutaneous endoscopic laser discectomy is performed, the surgeon uses X-ray monitoring and fiber optics that display images on a monitor similar to a TV screen, allowing the surgeon to see what is compressing the nerve during the procedure and removing it with a laser, ensuring a much higher rate of success."
"The laser, camera, suction, irrigation, and other surgical instruments are inserted through this translucent working tube. Once all the tools are in place, the surgeon uses a laser to vaporize the disc material, thus diminishing the pressure on the spinal cord and/or the spinal nerve."
So the laser spine institute says they ensure a much higher success rate by using this procedure. Well then why does not the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati recommend this. Here's what they have to say on their web site.
Q: Why don't Mayfield Clinic spine surgeons perform or endorse laser spine surgery?
They state: "While lasers have been used in surgical procedures for more than 20 years , there is no scientifically proven benefit for spine disc removal by laser, as compared to more convetional spine surgery.
The approach used in laser spine surgery is the same as that used in conventional spine surgery. Both can be done with minimally invasive techniques (Figure 1), and both have similar recovery times. In addition, both involve a laminotomy or laminectomy to gain access to the disc. Once the disc is visualized with either a microscope or endoscope, it is removed. This is where the difference occurs: the laser vaporizes the disc with laser energy, and with conventional surgery it is surgically removed with surgical instruments (Figure 2)."
"According to the Cochrane Review, which is generally considered the definitive source for information summarizing complex medical scientific data, "Trials of automated percutaneous discectomy and laser discectomy suggest that clinical outcomes following treatment are at best fair and certainly worse than after microdiscectomy (conventional surgery)." Mayfield surgeons agree with this assessment and therefore do not endorse or recommend laser spine surgery for their patients.
Was Hulk Hogan Duped Into Laser Spine Surgery
Is Hulk Hogan crying wolf for money. I suspect not . There is enough support for his allegations that there may be truth to them. This does not necessarily mean that he will win his case. Hulk was apparently talked into a series of laser spine surgeries at large medical costs that had no effect on his pain. Hulk later read where the doctor involved had a financial interest and these procedures were questionable. Be very careful and investigate fully before you decide on laser surgery on your spine. After all where there's smoke there is often fire.
Citations and Further resources:
by Anthony Castelli Attorney an Ohio personal injury lawyer with over 30 years experience seeking fair compensation for those injury victims hurt by the fault of another. For a free consultation for serious injury victims call 513-621-2345