The Latest Procedures and Technology in Back and Spine Medicine

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The Southeastern Spine Institute took a step forward in revolutionizing our operating rooms with the recent acquisition of Excelsius3D™.

This imaging system, manufactured by Globus Medical Inc., incorporates three imaging modalities into one multifunctional platform.

This 3-in-1 imaging system has several smart features that enhance the platform’s versatility and capability. Consolidating cone-beam CT, fluoroscopy, and digital radiography into a single unit eliminates the need for multiple imaging devices throughout one procedure.

Southeastern Spine is dedicated to providing the best patient care possible and this new 3D technology is making diagnosing and treating back and neck pain now more advanced than ever before!

Advanced 3 in 1 imaging, another way The Southeastern Spine Institute is Always One Step Ahead.

Breakthroughs in Neurosurgery


Neurosurgery is the medical specialization of treating diseases and disorders of the nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord. Neurosurgery has been practiced throughout human history, but the most important neurosurgery breakthroughs have only come about in the last century. These changes continue to make neurosurgery safer and patient recovery time shorter.

Over the last few decades, surgeons have learned so much about how the back and the brain work together. Along with medical researchers, scientists and engineers, physicians have made immense advances in surgical procedures. Surgery used to be extremely long, invasive and painful. But today, at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI), you can be in and out of surgery in just one day!

The Southeastern Spine Institute is dedicated to keeping up with the latest breakthroughs to improve the practice and your relief. Here is some background on how these techniques have developed.

Body Imaging Technology in the 1960s and 70s

NASA’s space technology did amazing things for aeronautics (it put a man on the moon), but it also benefitted the medical community, particularly when it comes to neuroimaging. The digital signal-processing technology that NASA pioneered for their Apollo Lunar landings was also used to develop the CT scanner, MRI and operating room microscopes.

This advanced body imaging software was a huge neurosurgery breakthrough. The technology is fast, painless, noninvasive, accurate and most importantly, lifesaving. It enables doctors to use X-rays to see detailed pictures of parts of the body, injuries and internal bleeding. This allows surgery to be performed through tiny incisions, making it less invasive.

Additionally, during the 60s, bone morphogenetic proteins were discovered. These chemicals stimulate bones to fuse, which lead to the idea of bone grafting and fusion. Now a common practice, these techniques join two vertebrae using bone grafting along with screws, plates and cages to help the bones heal together.

Neurosurgery Breakthroughs in the 1980s and 90s

The effectiveness and availability of neurosurgery expanded in these two decades. It was a time of refining instruments and practices. As technology continued to progress, it offered a better understanding of the inner workings of the body. It was finally possible for surgeons to see all the many intricacies of the spine. This helped them to really specialize by reviewing their techniques to make them faster and less painful.

Since then, neurologists have developed many notable options for treatment. Some of the biggest neurosurgery breakthroughs so far are the intraoperative MRI for brain tumors, 3D reconstruction for brain tumor surgery and X-knife radiosurgery for brain lesions.

Present Day and Moving Forward

In 2017, most neurological advances are technology driven. According to Lawrence Chin, MD, chair of the American Association of Neurosurgical Surgeons IT Committee, the key areas where neurosurgery breakthroughs are happening now are in:

  • Simulation technology
  • Imaging advances
  • Functional neurosurgery developments
  • Robotics

The future is bright. Improving laser technology is making non-invasive surgery a real possibility. And simulation technology will soon make it possible for neurosurgeons to “rehearse” surgeries or supplement an actual procedure using both virtual and authentic-reality simulation.

Breakthroughs in Back Surgery


Rapid changes in back surgery techniques continue to improve safety and shorten recovery.

In general, medical science and research have enhanced surgical procedures drastically since the 1950s. Back surgery in particular has seen dramatic shifts in both availability and effectiveness. Spinal surgery and neurosurgery were only in the infant stages in 1950; surgeons weren’t even sure what caused most back pain.

At that time, about the only back surgery being performed in the country required large posterior incisions that cut through muscle and tissue to get to what was thought to be the affected areas causing back pain. Many of the advances in back surgery in the 1950s came about primarily from the front lines of the Korean War.

Technology in the 60s and 70s

While NASA was putting a man on the moon in the 1960s, space-age technology also benefitted the medical community. During this time, scientists developed the CT scanner and operating room microscopes. Medical science in that decade discovered bone morphogenic proteins: chemicals that cause bones to fuse. Back surgeons in the 60s saw the introduction of lumbar fusion implants, using metal rods and other techniques designed to treat herniation in thoracic discs.

Neuroimaging came into its own in the 1970s with the full use of the CT scanner and the development of the MRI, otherwise known as magnetic imaging resonance x-ray technology. Back surgeons performed more minimally invasive surgeries during this period, and cervical vertebra fusion techniques became more commonplace. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons formed in 1979 to promote best practices.

Back Surgery Breakthroughs

Spinal surgeons truly began to understand the spine in all its intricacies during the 1980s, as technology continued to offer additional insight into the workings of the spine and the role of back surgery. Instrumentation was refined and number of screws and artificial bones for grafting were developed during this decade.

Understanding about the relationship of the brain to the spine deepened during the 1990s. Technology continued to bring advances to the field of back surgery and non-invasive back pain treatment. Spine doctors and medical researchers began to question the veracity of many surgeries. They looked more deeply for viable options that could ease patients’ pain and shorten the length of back surgery recovery.

Spinal Procedures Speeding Along

Just as the Internet and other new technologies change at lightning speed, so follows medical innovations. Consider the 2014 surgery performed in China that relied on a spinal disc replacement created on a 3D printer. Or the first in-utero spinal repair of a fetus with spina bifida in a Texas hospital that same year.

Minimally invasive microsurgery performed through tiny incisions has become the norm, and the procedure is getting more sophisticated all the time. As laser technology improves, you’ll see more extensive use of the minimally invasive procedures and less major trauma when undergoing back surgery. Rely on your spinal team at the Southeastern Spine Institute to keep up with the latest proven techniques for your ultimate relief.

New Techniques in Endoscopic Surgery


A better way to perform back surgery

Any time a surgeon can avoid cutting into muscles and making large incisions, it creates a better way to treat a back problem. And that’s the philosophy of the doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute. When they can avoid extensive back surgery, they do — with pleasure.

Endoscopic procedures provide an ideal solution to prevent the massive surgical treatments of the past, as well as the extensive recovery from back surgery previously required. Doctors today rely on small incisions to insert scopes for both diagnosing and treating back complications. Also referred to as minimally invasive surgery, endoscopy is the treatment of choice whenever possible. And techniques keep improving.

From Overnight to Same-Day

Some of the latest endoscopic techniques are so much less invasive than traditional back surgery that you very well may be able to go home on the same day as the procedure. Micro Endoscopic Posterior Cervical Discectomy is one such procedure used to relieve the arm and neck pain caused by diseased or herniated discs. Your spine surgeon uses tiny instruments to remove the offending bone material and take pressure off compressed nerves.

Another valuable tool used in endoscopic back surgery to relieve herniated discs is the laser. A Percutaneous Laser Discoplasty is ideal if you have a bulging disc that is still intact. You may need to stay in bed at home for the rest of the day, but you’ll leave the SSI campus with just a band-aid covering the small incision.

Tiny Tools Keep Getting Smaller

The surgeons at the Southeastern Spine Institute stay abreast of the technological advancements in minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. They come to rely on smaller and smaller instruments to treat your back problems when more conservative treatments like physical therapy fail.

Over the past 10 years, astounding accomplishments have been achieved in the area of endoscopic procedures. A few examples include:

  • 3D images projected from the tiny cameras inserted through incisions as small as a needle prick
  • Balloon kyphoplasty that only requires two needle-size incisions
  • Spinal fusion procedures that need one-half to one-inch-long incisions
  • Percutaneous insertion of clamps, rods and screws through small incisions
  • Damaged disc removal from the same small incision where the camera was inserted
  • Intraoperative X-ray imaging for precise computer-guided placement of hardware into the spine with no extra cuts
  • Microscopes inserted into the tiny incisions to provide an excellent view of your nerves

Receive the Benefits of Endoscopic Back Surgery

In addition to less, if any, time in the hospital and a much quicker recovery period, the benefits of endoscopic surgery sit squarely in your favor and include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Decreased stress on your body
  • Reduced risks of damage
  • Access for patients previously unable to undergo back surgery
  • Reduced costs

To receive all the benefits, however, you must rely on a trained team of experts in endoscopic back surgery. You’ll find those and more at the Charleston-based Southeastern Spine Institute, where physicians maintain their certifications and training in all the latest and greatest techniques for your well-being.